Republicans should embrace health care reform

The left-wing media may try to tell you otherwise, but the first two years of the Trump administration have been nothing short of a success.

With President Trump in the White House, and Republican control of Congress, we’ve seen an economy with multiple quarters of growth, 3.2 million jobs have been added to the economy, and unemployment fell to its lowest level in 18 years. And, perhaps the president’s signature achievement so far, a historic tax overhaul which has put money back in the pockets of more than 80 percent of American families.

But this is not the time to take our foot off the gas pedal.

As we approach the upcoming midterm elections, we need to acknowledge the looming threats and take action so this important progress is not undone. Poll after poll shows that health care is the number one issue for voters in the midterms. A recent Fox News poll showed that 65 percent of respondents said it was their number one issue because of affordability concerns. Forty percent said it was their number one issue over concerns of a government takeover of the health care industry.

Let's face it: ObamaCare didn’t work. Plain and simple. Besides, Americans want and deserve something better.

It’s time for Republicans to lean in on health care, not shy away from it. It should be a key message in the final weeks and days of campaigning and a central focus of Congress during the lame duck session. Republicans led boldly on tax reform. They should do the same with health care reform.

We can start with low-hanging fruit, like stopping harmful – and unpopular – ObamaCare taxes, like the health insurance, medical device and Cadillac taxes.

This is not rocket science: even Democrats conceded that the Health Insurance Tax (HIT) was a bad policy when they passed bipartisan legislation in 2015 – signed by Obama – to delay the taxes until 2017. They then delayed the tax again for 2019.

The Republican Party needs to make the issue of health care reform one of utmost importance to voters. Success at the polls may very well depend on it.

Without immediate action by Congress, this tax will return in 2020 – and if Republicans keep the House and Senate, it will be on the GOP’s watch, and it will cause significant harm to businesses, seniors and families. While 2020 may feel far away, it's really not because insurers are setting 2020 premiums now.

But let's face it: this isn’t just about repealing a part of ObamaCare. It’s also about protecting the benefits of tax reform. In 2020, the average family will see $2,059 in savings from the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. But if Congress fails to do something, nearly 25 percent of the tax cut, or $500 in savings per family, will be wiped out to pay for the Health Insurance Tax.

If the GOP ignores this looming threat, the HIT-driven premium hikes will strike right before the 2020 elections, which could prove disastrous for Republicans and Trump. Along with tackling some of these no-brainer health care policies, Republicans should focus on ways to give states more flexibility, such as Medicaid block grants and limiting federal requirements. But they should also focus on pricing transparency and addressing one of the root causes of rising premiums and deductibles: the rising costs of procedures and care.

We should support health care competition and innovation, not cripple it. Promoting price transparency will empower consumers and small businesses to create purchasing pools and expand coverage without government involvement. It will unleash some of the greatest negotiators in the world, American for-profit businesses, to drive down costs for themselves and to also benefit the American people as a whole.

We must also support the Trump administration’s efforts to tackle unsustainable drug pricing.

Nearly two years in, President Trump’s scorecard is impressive. But to ensure continued progress over the remainder of his first and hopefully second terms, and to protect the president’s legacy, the Republican Party needs to make the issue of health care reform one of utmost importance to voters. Success at the polls may very well depend on it.