Repealing Obamacare: Let’s get this done, says Sen. Lee

In this file photo Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, delivers a speech on the Senate Floor, U.S. Senate, Washington, fall 2015 | Photo from video courtesy of the offices of Sen. Mike Lee, St. George News

OPINION –  A repeal bill must address all of Obamacare’s shortcomings and replace them with market-based solutions.

Since 2010 everyone in the Republican party has agreed that Obamacare must be repealed. Most Republican members of Congress — ourselves included — were elected, and reelected, on the promise that we would take any opportunity possible to end this partisan, ham-handed, and unconstitutional law.

When Republicans attained control of both the House and Senate in 2015, we saw an opportunity to lay the foundation for full repeal under a possible future Republican president. To that end, we penned an article in National Review calling for Congress to send President Obama a bill repealing Obamacare. “It is more important than ever for Republicans in Congress to honor the promises we have made to the American people,” we wrote. “We can do this, before the end of the year, through a procedure known as ‘budget reconciliation.’”

House and Senate Republicans followed through on this promise. We sent a bill to President Obama’s desk that would have repealed much of the law, and was promptly — and unsurprisingly — vetoed. But this exercise was not, by any measure, a fruitless effort.

That bill, H.R. 3762, established the minimum standards against which any future Obamacare repeal bills would be measured. It zeroed out Obamacare’s individual and employer mandates, scrapped the taxes, revived health savings accounts, and rolled back the Medicaid expansion and subsidies. Majorities in the House and Senate are on record voting for all of these items. We can do it again.

But there is no denying that any new reconciliation repeal bill in the next Congress will have a different outcome. This time, when the House and Senate send such a bill to the White House, the incoming president has said he will sign it. That is why it is so important that we get this repeal bill right.

And the bare minimum simply is not enough this time.

A minimum effort could end up hurting many Americans. Specifically, the law’s many insurance mandates drive up health costs and force individuals to violate their deeply held religious convictions. When government bureaucrats and politicians decide that every insurance policy must cover free doctor visits and abortifacients, Americans who don’t need those options end up paying more for products they don’t want. That’s great for the insurance companies, but not for taxpayers or consumers.

Some have argued that insurance regulations fall outside the scope of what Senate rules allow in a reconciliation bill. But since taxpayers are on the hook for billions in health insurance premiums every year, we should not give up on tackling the insurance regulations that inflate those premiums.

But deleting Obamacare from federal statute will be only the first step in reforming federal health-care policy. Republicans cannot wash their hands of the consequences of the Democrats’ failed health-care experiment. We have a responsibility to fix the broken government policies that have crippled our health-care system for decades. This means providing a transition, for however many years, for the market to recover and be able to serve individuals and businesses with more affordable, accessible health coverage. This means implementing the best of the many free-market repair proposals that Republicans have been developing for the past six years. People need options, not heavy-handed government mandates.

The details of a replacement plan do not have to be finalized now. But overall, it must honor medicine’s founding principle: primum non nocere — first, do no harm.

Congress and the Trump administration can’t afford to fumble the repeal of Obamacare. We can’t afford to just squeak by with the bare minimum, while preserving many of Obamacare’s most burdensome and intrusive provisions.

The American people have entrusted Republicans with a historic opportunity. They gave us the House, the Senate, a majority of governor’s seats, and the White House. Now we must honor the trust they have put in us by repealing and replacing Obamacare with health-care policies that lower costs, improve quality, and increase access for all Americans.

— Mike Lee represents Utah in the U.S. Senate. Mark Walker represents North Carolina’s sixth congressional district in the U.S. House of Representatives. The opinions stated in this article are those of the senators not representative of St. George News.

This article was originally published in National Review Dec. 9, 2016, and was sent to St. George News by Sen. Lee’s Officer for addtional publication.

Email: news@stgnews.com

Twitter: @STGnews

 

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16 Comments

  • Not_So_Much December 10, 2016 at 4:50 pm

    Government, especially the federal government is out of control. It has no business in healthcare what so ever. Please tell me what they are doing better than the private sector is, has done or will do given the opportunity. After dismantling Obamacare a plan should be developed to phase out medicare and medicaid. Lets read the US Constitution and follow the wisdom of the founding fathers.

    • Rainbow Dash December 11, 2016 at 2:18 pm

      “Lets read the US Constitution and follow the wisdom of the founding fathers.”

      Implication: “Lets return to the constitution as written in 1791”.

      Yea, lets not.

      I love it when people say things like that though because I love pointing out a one thing. Here it is:

      There are 27 amendments to the constitution. 17 of those have been enacted (counting 1 that was repealed (18th) and the one that repealed it (21st))in the centuries since the original 10 that were enacted in 1791. They include voting rights (including exactly who is allowed to vote and under what circumstances), the abolition of slavery, term limits on the president, due process of law, and many many others.

      If we were to take the ignorant and ill-informed advice of you and people like you, and “follow the wisdom of the founding fathers[…]”, we would lose ALL of those hard fought rights we’ve seen fit to give ourselves over the years. That’s like replacing an entire computer because a fan gave out.

      I suggest that if we don’t like a law that we work to CHANGE it so that it works better to fix the problems we face TODAY.

  • Rainbow Dash December 10, 2016 at 4:55 pm

    “This means implementing the best of the many free-market repair proposals that Republicans have been developing for the past six years.”

    Mike, THANK YOU for informing the American people that you have been working on “free-market repair proposals” for the past 6 years. I, as one of your constituents, have just one question:

    WHAT ARE THEY??

    • Henry December 11, 2016 at 1:22 pm

      The House GOP healthcare plan was finalized and presented in June, the Trump/Pence plan in September. Google them for the details of each. Unlike Obamacare, we won’t “have to pass the bill to find out what’s in it.”

      • Rainbow Dash December 11, 2016 at 2:34 pm

        I did. Unfortunately for you I couldnt find anything I couldnt find anything on healthcare when I googled “Trump/Pence Plan” the most I could find on “GOP healthcare plan” was a 5-6 page press release that did little more than denounce The Affordable Care Act and say things like “:The nation’s healthcare system is too bureaucratic and too expensive. It didn’t work before Obamacare, and it most certainly does not work now.” therefore I’m going to ask you post some sources. Oh and, so you know, Im only interested in reading the contents of law itself so don’t bother posting anything else.

        • Henry December 11, 2016 at 5:05 pm

          Unfortunately for our fellow readers, you are either being disingenuous or lack the reading comprehension to understand the articles.

          The Trump/Pence position paper is located at https://assets.donaldjtrump.com/HCReformPaper.pdf. The link can be found via goggling at “healthcare reform Trump”. As a position paper, it contains overarching goals and the rationale for each. The specific goals are:
          1) Completely repeal Obamacare.
          2) Modify existing law that inhibits the sale of health insurance across state lines.
          3) Allow individuals to fully deduct health insurance premium payments from their tax returns under the current tax system.
          4) All individuals to use Health Savings Accounts (HSAs).
          5) Require price transparency from all healthcare providers, especially doctors and healthcare organizations like clinics and hospitals
          6) Block-grant Medicaid to the states.
          7) Remove barriers to entry info free markets for drugs providers that offer safe, reliable, and cheaper products.

          Each of these goals contain verbiage that details the why and how. Readers should visit the link to learn the specifics.

          The legislative details are found in the proposed House GOP healthcare plan, found at https://abetterway.speaker.gov/_assets/pdf/ABetterWay-HealthCare-PolicyPaper.pdf. The link can be found via goggling “healthcare reform House GOP”. Since the article is 37 pages long, readers need to visit the site to read all the details. The specific legislative recommendations are:
          1) Expanding Consumer-Directed Health Care Options
          2) Expanding Opportunities for Pooling
          3) Making Support for Coverage Portable
          4) Preserving Employee Wellness Programs
          5) Preserving Employer-Sponsored Insurance Protecting Employers’ Flexibility to Self-Insure
          6) Purchasing Across State Lines
          7) Medical Liability Reform

          Each of these recommendations contains approximately one page of implementing instructions, so readers should visit the link to drill down to the particulars.

          Oh, and so you know, I’m only interested in a reasoned comment that addresses the material at the links, so don’t bother responding with anything else.

          • Rainbow Dash December 11, 2016 at 7:48 pm

            Henry, Thank you for posting those position papers. It was really nice to find out that these “smaller government” republicans proposed over 400 new laws this year alone. I’m wondering though, why am I just now hearing about them? I mean this is a REPUBLICAN state after all so I think something would have made the papers especially given the fact that Republicans here have been very public regarding their hatred of Obamacare. That said, I asked for an actual law and you provided me with a position paper I had already read. I even took the liberty of quoting one of them in my first reply to you. Do you know the difference? If not, I’m here’s a link to an actual healthcare law. in PDF format.

            Enjoy! ♥

        • Henry December 12, 2016 at 3:24 pm

          Rainbow Dash, thank you for your courteous response. You really should expand your daily reading to include a variety of journalistic sources. The Republican proposals have been out there for several months, although not well covered by the mainstream media or St George News (which was too busy reporting on Evan McMullin).

          In a recent two-year Congressional session, over 12,000 bills were proposed, but less than 500 were enacted. Since Obamacare was signed into law in 2012, it has been attempted to be repealed more than 60 TIMES. Credit President Obama and his lock-step Democrats for successfully gridlocking EVERY attempt.

          You originally asked for “proposals”, which you found and read in the Trump/Pence position paper (which you called a press release); I provided both that and the House GOP healthcare plan for our readers. Then you asked for the “law”.

          Laws have to be passed by both houses of Congress and signed into law by the President, in order to be enacted. Do you know the difference? If not, here’s a link for you that explains how the legislative process works -http://congressforkids.net/Legislativebranch_makinglaws.htm.

          Have a great day! SWAK JFY

          • Rainbow Dash December 12, 2016 at 10:52 pm

            Henry,
            First, a few facts:
            1) I know a lot about the legislative process so I won’t be needing that link you shared. That said I also know how to post a clickable link so people don’t have to copy/paste it in their browser.
            2) A law must be written before it can be presented to Congress for deliberation. It must also be made part of the public record before it is passed.
            3) There are several steps a law must go through before it is passed or vetoed in all houses.
            4) To clarify, I asked Mike Lee for a proposal and you for the law.
            5) In my opinion a “proposal” or “position paper” is just a fancy term for “Opinion” All they really say are “Here’s what we want to (or should) do” and, like most of the opinion pages and comment sections in the many “journalistic sources” I browse every day, they lack any real substance.

            Second, I’m THANKFUL that Democrats successfully blocked every attempt by Republicans. The Free Market system they’re proposing sounds like it is the same system we had before the ACA was signed into law in 2010. A system that, in my humble opinion, failed to give the majority of Americans reasonable healthcare coverage at a reasonable cost. I’ll be the first to admit that the ACA is not perfect and it needs to be improved but it is a FAR CRY better than what we had before.

          • Henry December 13, 2016 at 12:57 pm

            Rainbow Dash,

            A few additional facts:
            1) If you know so much about the legislative process, why do you continue to display ignorance of it?
            2) The current session of Congress is a lame-duck, just like President Obama. No overarching issue like Obamacare will be addressed until the new session convenes in January.
            3) To clarify, your first comment asked for a proposal, for which I provided the google search criteria. You then asked for a law, which is still being prepared for the reason in (2), so I provided links and highlights of the proposals.
            4) You should educate yourself about the difference between a position paper and an opinion paper. Here’s a link to help you: http://www.genuinewriting.com/opinion_vs_position_papers.html; I left it unclickable in order to purposely inconvenience you. I will spare you from going back to point out the numerous grammatical errors in your previous posts.

            If you are thankful that Democrats successfully blocked every attempt by Republicans to modify Obamacare, you contribute to the scourge of gridlock in Washington. Polls show that the majority of Americans don’t share your opinion of Obamacare. The few positive things that Obamacare did achieve, could’ve been accomplished in a much smaller, separate bill.

            Instead, how the huge monstrosity of Obamacare passed was best summarized by one of its architects, Jonathan Gruber:
            “Lack of transparency is a huge political advantage. And basically, call it the stupidity of the American voter or whatever, but basically that was really really critical to get the thing to pass.”

          • Rainbow Dash December 15, 2016 at 7:17 pm

            Henry,

            Please don’t let me stop you from correcting my grammar. I need a good reason to laugh today.

            On a serious note: that link you posted to “genuinewriting.com” was flagged by my security software because the site is known to contain viruses or malware. Not to worry though, the connection was halted long before my browser reached the site so no harm was done.

            Have a nice day.

  • Allie December 10, 2016 at 5:16 pm

    First of all let me say, Obamacare does not affect me one way or the other. But, I am interested to know if Sen. Lee, or any other member of Congress can tick off six GOOD things about it, and 12 bad things and why they are bad. Congress has spent eight years complaining about everything Obama has done and has not offered any better ideas. But, they ignored rising drug prices, pharmaceutical monopolies, communication monopolies, Supreme Court nominees, VA treatment of our soldiers, companies establishing their home offices in other countries to avoid paying their fair share of taxes, the vaporization of vocational training for our future workforce, jobs being sent to other countries, our crumbling infrastructure and the banking thieves. For all this they expect a salary raise. They have done nothing to reduce the budget by finding all the crap our tax dollars go to which does nothing to make this country, or the lives of its citizens more fruitful. They think if they pass a balanced budget amendment, they have done manual labor. If they had the constraints of a balanced budget, like most working stiffs, they would run for the hills. Congress needs to have a “honey-do list” made up by the American voters instead of them telling us what they intend to do. We need to have a poll, with each voter writing in five things we want Congress to take care of the upcoming session. Congress can start with the top three. They need to COMPETENTLY complete the first three. Then work down the rest of the list. They need to start working for what we want and need, I’m tired of working for them and being taxed with no representation.

  • Pheo December 10, 2016 at 7:23 pm

    I’d love for someone to tell my how a market-based solution will work for my family. I have paid for medical insurance for my whole life. When I first started paying for insurance, my family was healthy and we paid way more into insurance than we got in benefits. Still, it was worth it knowing that if something happened, we’d be covered.

    Fast forward 10 years. We have a child with an incurable genetic illness and wife has arthritis requiring expensive medications. Our out-of-pocket expenses are about $25,000 per year (premiums and out-of-pocket expenses), but we are thrilled to have the coverage. Next year, that number will go up to $30,000, but we are still thrilled to have it. Expenses paid on our behalf this year will total $100,000, and that is in a year with no complications. That could easily be double if our son has to spend a couple of weeks in the hospital.

    So what insurance company would cover us if they weren’t forced to? Imagine trying to buy car insurance when you know you are going to get into an accident every month and probably a major one every other year. You would be uninsurable. Because of the health care reforms under Clinton and then Obama, we can continue to buy insurance, even though we will no longer be profitable for any insurance company. I recognize that this increases insurance costs for everyone else, but the whole point of insurance is that if something happens to you, you will be covered. If insurance is only for the healthy, then it is a ripoff at any price.

    So 2017 will likely be the last year that our family will be able to buy insurance. (Please note that we do not take any incentives from the government. We just want to be able to buy insurance.) In 2018, we will likely be at the mercy of whatever company might be interested in hiring me. (I am currently an independent contractor.) Any company that considers hiring me will most certainly be aware (if they look at my online presence) that I have family members with very expensive medical conditions. While it will most likely be illegal to not hire me because of my family’s medical conditions, that knowledge will certainly have an influence of whether they take me over someone else. They just have so say that they don’t like me as an applicant.

    Before you say that Trump has promised to keep the good parts of Obamacare, like the prohibition on discriminating against people with preexisting conditions. This simply will not work without requiring everyone to buy insurance or jacking up the premiums for sick people to unsustainable levels. Look up “insurance death spiral” to find out what happens at this point.

    We as a country need to decide what we want to do with our sick citizens. My son did not have a choice when it came to his illness. My wife and I had no idea that we carried bad genes that could cause his illness. The free-market solution to medicine means that people who are well can afford health insurance and the people who are sick can’t. There is just no money to be made from them.

    So let’s decide: Either we collectively take care of the sick in this country or we don’t. Advocating for a free-market health care solution just ignores the millions of people that suffer from cancer or chronic diseases, many of whom had no control over their situation. Millions of people in the past have suffered bankruptcy when faced with a cancer diagnosis, as if it isn’t horrible enough to have cancer. Returning to this inhumane system can only happen if we ignore the misery that will visit many unfortunate families and individuals that will surely lose their insurance under the Trump administration. I am glad that Senator Lee recognizes that they should “do no harm”, but I fear that they will delude themselves into thinking that a free-market health financing system will adequately provide for people with expensive preexisting conditions.

    Please let your representatives know that any replacement system must provide continued adequate care to these unfortunate fellow citizens.

    • ladybugavenger December 12, 2016 at 7:23 am

      Pheo, thank you for your story. It is an unfortunate one, and a situation many can relate too.

      One of my husbands medications is not covered under Medicare and this one medicine would cost $48,000 a year. Thank God for the Novartis foundation. Many would complain about Medicare but it covers a lot of the costs, and services. Without it, we would be homeless. On the other hand, I have zero medical insurance and having a difficult time landing a job in this new place. St George was easier to get a job. It’s frightening now that I’m older and if I get sick, I’ll drown in the costs. I don’t get government assistance but might be forced to if I don’t get a job soon. I’m scared of what will happen if I have a serious illness.

      Prayers for your family! Merry Christmas and a better New Year!

    • Rainbow Dash December 12, 2016 at 1:41 pm

      Pheo.
      I’m sorry to hear about your situation. I do not have a child but I cannot imagine the misery that comes with having sick kid in a society made up of people who more about money than they do about other people.

      A few years ago, my brother fell 80 feet and broke his pelvis. He spent a total of two days in the hospital and incurred a hospital bill of $500,000. He was lucky though. He had a full time job insurance through his employer so it covered most of it but he had been one of the millions of Americans who weren’t that lucky, he might never have gotten out of it as well as he did.

      There are many millions of stories like yours that underscore why the Free Market system we had before The Affordable Care Act didn’t work and why I hope we don’t go back to it.
      Is the ACA we have now perfect? No way. It needs changes and improvements to make it better and we need to recognize that in the months and years to come. No matter how you slice it, the law is not as terrible as Fox News and other right wing opinion blogs make it out to be so lets not throw the baby out with the bathwater, yea?

  • CHJ December 11, 2016 at 2:18 pm

    Key questions: If you have something better, why haven’t you proposed those changes years ago? Many of both sides of the political spectrum have acknowledged that improvements are needed – even the President. You have controlled both houses and have never made any effort to solve the health insurance problem.
    Or is this just one of those typical political moves – we cannot acknowledge that the other party could do anything correctly. Only we know what is right!
    Finally, if your plan is going to be so good, can I be confident that it will apply to Congress’s health plans too or will this be something from which you will exempt yourselves as usual.
    I wish someone in Congress would remember that old saying, “There is nothing we cannot accomplish, if we don’t care who gets the credit.”

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