Congressman Pete Olson

Representing the 22nd District of Texas

A better way to improve healthcare system

November 5, 2013

Houston Community News

Posted: Tuesday, November 5, 2013 1:58 pm
By Rep. Pete Olson
On Oct. 1, Americans experienced the first round of malfunctions in the implementation of the new healthcare law known as Obamacare. The problematic rollout of the Obamacare website affirms what we knew all along — the system is too complex, heavily flawed and not ready for prime time.

These website glitches are simply a symptom of a much larger problem with the overall healthcare law. Obamacare not only requires you to buy health coverage — and taxes you if you do not — but it also designs the coverage you get. Manipulating both the supply and demand of a market is the worst form of socialism. It will not only ruin the healthcare market, but also drags down the economy.

Rather than wasting more time looking for ways to fix what's wrong in the law, we should implement a practical solution to the healthcare problem. Americans deserve real-world options that allow market-based solutions to address the supply and cost of healthcare, keep medical professionals practicing, as well as expand our ability to seek and provide cutting edge technologies, drugs and treatments. That’s why Congress should repeal Obamacare and enact the American Health Care Reform Act — a less complex plan based on the market approach that has served our country so well.

The American Health Care Reform Act fully repeals Obamacare and eliminates the need for billions of taxpayer dollars to implement unrealistic regulations and mandates that are driving up our healthcare costs. This conservative solution puts forward sensible legislation that supports a portable free-market alternative to the current healthcare system.

The bill lifts restrictions that prevent health plans from being offered across state lines, allowing individuals and families to find the best plan at the best price and creates competition based on value. This competition will lower prices and improve the quality of healthcare. The bill also helps level the playing field between employer-based and individual market insurance by providing all Americans with a standard deduction for health insurance. Individuals would also receive a $7,500 tax deduction while families would receive a $20,000 tax deduction. This would give individuals and families the flexibility to choose a plan that best fits their needs.

America is compassionate and our society takes care of the most vulnerable in our communities who lack coverage through circumstance not by choice. Emergency rooms treat patients regardless of ability to pay. We don't let sick people die on the doorsteps of hospitals. Those costs are borne by all of us, but Obamacare upends the current system and will unnecessarily cost our economy more than $1 trillion over 10 years.

To that end, the American Health Care Reform Act would ensure that those with pre-existing conditions have access to healthcare by expanding federal support for state high risk pools to $25 billion over ten years. This is a much more effective and affordable way to provide coverage for those who need it most. Premiums would also be capped at 200 percent of the average premium in the state, maintaining affordable coverage. It would also expand access to Health Savings Accounts, which Obamacare eliminates, increasing the amount of pre-tax dollars individuals can deposit into portable savings accounts to be used for healthcare expenses. This encourages people to be smart consumers by allowing consumers to keep what they don’t spend. This will go a long way to reduce medical costs.

Medical liability also plays a role in the escalating costs of healthcare. The American Health Care Reform Act would implement legal reforms that include caps on non-economic damages and limits to attorneys’ fees, much like Texas did in recent years. These reforms have increased the number of doctors practicing in Texas and improved healthcare available to more Texans.

These reforms are a sensible solution to improve healthcare without a massive government takeover like Obamacare. Through a free market, Americans will be able to purchase affordable healthcare. Let’s keep America from the death grip of socialist thinking and instead provide the American people with better medical coverage at a lower price through the proven marketplace and American compassion.