HEALTH

ObamaCare boosters are wrong about the American Health Care Act - just like they were about ObamaCare

Scott DesJarlais

Do any of these lines sound familiar?

If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor. If you like your insurance plan, you can keep it. The Affordable Care Act will cut your yearly premiums by $2,500. The law will “bend the health care cost curve downward” and save taxpayer money. 

Oh, and the website will be as easy to use as Amazon.  

These are the arguments ObamaCare supporters, including in the liberal media, deployed to pass their federal health care takeover. They should sound familiar and completely unrelated to the experience of most Americans.

Many in my home state of Tennessee lost the insurance plans they liked. Premium prices have almost doubled, and doctors are harder to find. Barack Obama promised his namesake law would boost the economy, but across the country, small and large businesses report ObamaCare harms their ability to hire and grow. 

Under ObamaCare, for the first time in decades, average life expectancy in the U.S. declined, and the mortality rate rose.

While not perfect, the new AHCA reflects conservative values of constitutionalism, limited government and the free market, containing an option for states to waive ObamaCare regulations that are driving up the cost of insurance.

Yet defenders of the indefensible, a law which cost Democrats the House of Representatives, Senate and White House, are making all sorts of dishonest claims about the American Health Care Act, a better alternative that will return stability and choice to the individual insurance market.

Not only that, insurance would mean actual health care. High-deductible ObamaCare plans are barely worth the paper they’re printed on – much like reports that ObamaCare was just fine until Donald Trump came along. In reality, Tennesseans and others voted for the president in large numbers because local health insurance exchanges are near collapse. 

Remember when ObamaCare creator Jonathan Gruber admitted Democrats relied on “the stupidity of the American voter” to foist their disaster on the public? Republicans, on the other hand, trust in Americans’ ability to see past the disinformation and make their own health care decisions with their own money, the idea at the heart of the AHCA. 

Because our plan repeals billions of dollars of taxes on everything from prescription drugs to insurance itself, those voters will have more to invest in health care (or whatever they like). The AHCA expands health savings accounts, flexible spending accounts, and tax credits to help low-income earners and middle-class families purchase insurance. 

Importantly, it modernizes Medicaid to ensure only those who truly need the program take advantage. If you can believe it, ObamaCare's Medicaid expansion favors able-bodied adults over the poor and disabled who rely on the program. That’s unfair. 

Charges that the AHCA discriminates against patients with pre-existing condition are untrue. In fact, the law contains funding to reduce their out-of-pocket expenses. Claims that the law punishes rape victims are cynical acts of desperation and proven false.     

ObamaCare’s individual and business mandates are gone, another feature the Freedom Caucus and I liked about the original AHCA. Others we didn’t like as much, and my conservative colleagues and I worked hard to give states and consumers greater flexibility in the version that passed the House.  

While not perfect, the new AHCA reflects conservative values of constitutionalism, limited government and the free market, containing an option for states to waive ObamaCare regulations that are driving up the cost of insurance.

The AHCA is only the start. While the Senate considers the House bill, the President and his Secretary of Health and Human Services are making every effort to exempt individuals, families and businesses from ObamaCare regulations. HHS Secretary Tom Price, a conservative doctor like me, knows exactly what the Trump administration must do to help more people afford insurance.    

Like me, he knows insurance is meaningless without access to good doctors and medicine. In Congress, the Freedom Caucus, GOP Doctors Caucus and other concerned members are working to expand generic drugs, reduce the costs of starting a medical practice, and to encourage life-saving medical innovation. 

But opponents of real health care reform will say anything to protect ObamaCare at the expense of the people it hurts. To me, Americans’ well-being is more important than any party’s political legacy. And it's more important than insurance companies’ bottom lines. 

Right now, numerous government bureaucracies are funneling taxpayer money to a few big insurers, whose profits are soaring along with the national debt. The object is to bring transparency to a process that’s become too convoluted and cumbersome to comprehend, much less afford. The price of an office visit or medical procedure shouldn’t be such a mystery.

The truth is that Republicans are working hard to undo the damage ObamaCare has done and improve health care in America for all of us. We’re putting patients first.

Republican Scott DesJarlais represents Tennessee’s 4th congressional district.