The U.S. healthcare system remains a world leader. Constantly evolving to meet future generation’s needs, our nation’s vast network of medical professionals and cutting edge facilities continue to strive to improve Americans’ health and life expectancy. Many of the advances in medical care over the last several decades have been accomplished through the innovation and research by our own New Jersey pharmaceutical and health sciences industries.
When it comes to health care and health coverage, I firmly believe Congress and the President should follow the Hippocratic Oath: “First, do no harm.” Unfortunately, the reform effort undertaken years ago that produced the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as “Obamacare,” has failed to live up to that oath.
When I meet my constituents at many public events, the future of Obamacare is often a prime topic of discussion. To make sure I understand their points of view, I ask four questions:
1. How many of you are paying more for your health care today than before Obamacare?
2. How many of you know someone, including yourself, who lost your health care coverage since Obamacare was implemented?
3. How many of you have found the bureaucracy, rules and restrictions of healthcare more difficult?
4. How many of you remember President Obama and Speaker Pelosi promising that you could ‘keep your health care’ and that costs would go down under the Affordable Care Act?
The vast majority of respondents answered “yes” to most of those four basic queries. In fact, in a recent Gallup survey, 80 percent of Americans polled said they want to change the law significantly or replace it altogether.
The first order of the new Congress in 2017 is to repeal Obamacare and quickly transition from government-controlled healthcare to a 21st Century health system that is personalized and patient-centered.
Let’s face it, since its enactment in 2010, Obamacare has failed American families. We have seen skyrocketing premiums, soaring deductibles, and fewer choices for patients and their families.
Here’s the reality:
Higher premiums. President Obama promised premiums would decline by $2,500 per family. Instead, average annual family premiums in the employer-sponsored market have jumped by about $4,300 and now total more than $18,000 annually.
Even higher deductibles. Deductibles for individual plans in the employer-sponsored market are up an average of 60 percent since 2010 – from $917 to $1,478 in 2016. For many families, these higher deductibles are like having no coverage at all.
An even bigger bill for taxpayers. Because premiums have skyrocketed, so have the federal subsidies needed to prop up Obamacare. According to one independent study, taxpayers will pay nearly $10 billion more for subsidies in 2017.
Even fewer choices. For 2016, only 2 percent of eligible customers had one insurer to choose from. For this year, that number has jumped to 17 percent. In 2016, New Jersey has five insurance Obamacare providers. This year, New Jersey has TWO!
In addition, Obamacare is wreaking havoc in the job market. The ACA has damaged small businesses by raising taxes, discouraging hiring and encouraging fewer working hours and, in effect, lowering wages of employees.
All of these trends are heading in the wrong direction. That is why there is a real urgency to end this failed experiment. Congress and the new Administration have made repeal and replacement of Obamacare their first order of business.
As you are probably aware, I opposed the original enactment of the ACA and have voted dozens of times over the past several years to repeal, reform and defund Obamacare. I look forward to having the opportunity to repeal this law and transition from government-controlled healthcare to a 21st Century health care system that is personalized and patient-centered.
I support common sense, market-based health care reform and efforts to make quality health care coverage affordable and accessible for every American. Any time a child or a parent goes without the care they need, it represents a very serious personal crisis for that family.
With that said, I recognize the value of certain specific provisions of the ACA. Indeed, I support continuation of current protections for individuals with “pre-existing conditions” and mandatory coverage for young adults under age 26. I anticipate that the Congressional leadership and the new Administration will propose legislation that includes these conditions and perhaps others.
I also understand that millions of Americans are now depending on the ACA and are worried about losing their coverage. As the legislative process continues, I fully expect to have the opportunity to vote for an effective replacement bill that provides a stable transition period.
Specifically, I support:
- allowing ‘portability’ of health coverage, so you can take your plan with you from job to job and state to state;
- requiring insurance companies to cover individuals with pre-existing medical conditions;
- covering young people until age 26 through their parents’ policies.
- encouraging doctors to treat indigent and low-income patients by allowing the physicians to deduct the costs of treatment they provided as a write-off from their federal taxes;
- tort reform to reduce junk medical lawsuits that unnecessarily drive up costs for doctors, hospitals and other health providers;
- increasing support for medical education to prepare more young men and women to become doctors, nurses and health providers to ensure that patients have access to trained professionals;
- reducing fraud, waste and abuse in medical care;
I will continue to be a vocal advocate for replacing the ACA with health care legislation aimed at reducing health care costs, improving choices and reforming liability laws to put the needs of patients first, and ensuring there are enough doctors to care for American families.
I believe we can accomplish these goals by empowering patients and doctors, instead of turning more control over to the federal government, and I will continue to push for the right kind of reforms.