Today we are closer than ever to sending ObamaCare to the ash heap of history and opening the door for much-needed market-based solutions to health insurance.
With the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act, Republicans banded together to eliminate the unpopular ObamaCare individual mandate. Now the Trump administration is determined to find a better way to address our nation’s health-care needs.
But despite these positive developments, both Democrats and Republicans in Washington are considering policies that would not only retain ObamaCare for the indefinite future, but also expand this health-care disaster beyond even President Obama’s ambitions.
These proposals would snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by shoveling billions of additional dollars in deficit spending into the pockets of insurance companies, which have been losing money on ObamaCare’s exchanges because of the law’s misguided one-size-fits-all approach.
The real solution is obvious: we need to do away with this massive, expensive and unfair government program, instead of throwing money at a handful of corporations to tolerate it. But few have accused Washington of ever recognizing the obvious.
Several competing proposals appear to be on the table. One would direct the Obama-created bailout known as cost-sharing-reduction (CSR) payments to go to ObamaCare insurance companies. Another would create an entirely new reinsurance program to funnel billions of taxpayer dollars directly to insurers in order to convince them to stick with ObamaCare.
Republicans should reject both approaches.
Before now, Republicans correctly saw CSR payments for what they were – flagrant bailouts of favored ObamaCare insurance companies – and refused to be complicit in that bailout.
Republicans also recognized that CSR payments lacked sufficient pro-life protections, allowing taxpayer funding for abortions. These problems with CSR payments still remain – but the attitude among some Republicans has strangely and suddenly changed.
The reinsurance program proposals under consideration today would create a new backdoor bailout similar to one originally found in ObamaCare.
ObamaCare created a three-year reinsurance program, tantamount to a bailout, which thankfully ended in 2016. The Obama administration mismanaged this bailout so badly that it failed to collect enough insurance slush money, and then sought to fudge its mistakes by taking money from the Treasury and redirecting it into the pockets of insurance companies.
Back in 2016, top GOP committee chairmen from both the House and Senate called this scheme “the great Obamacare heist.” And now some would seek to reproduce it.
This Frankenstein combination of a new Republican-created insurance bailout plus funding ObamaCare’s existing pro-abortion CSR bailout is exactly what we counseled against in March last year. If we ignore the years of promises we made to the people on ObamaCare, the voters would, quite rightly, distrust Republicans for years to come.
Fortunately, there’s another way. We can treat health insurance as the product it is and allow the principles of choice and competition to provide cheap, effective options, as we do for almost every other purchase in our society. Consumer freedom is the most effective way to lower premiums and make health insurance more affordable.
We should expand health savings accounts so Americans get a tax-free way to pay for health expenses, allow people to purchase plans that work for them, and make these plans portable between jobs. These three simple things will go a long way toward promoting market competition that benefits consumers and reduces the cost of health care for everyday Americans.
Republicans stand at a moment of great opportunity, one we’ve been promising to seize for over eight years. We can listen to the American people – who delivered historic Republican majorities that promised to move our nation past broken government intrusions into the health insurance market – or we can double down on this failed system by bailing out ObamaCare. We know which one we choose.
Sen. Mike Lee represents Utah, Rep. Mark Meadows represents North Carolina and Rep. Jim Jordan represents Ohio. All are Republicans.