January 31, 2017 at 5:00 am ET
It’s an exciting time for our country. With a unified Republican government in place, the coming months are shaping up to be a busy time working to put real solutions in place to help the American people.
At the forefront of the agenda is repealing Obamacare and rebuilding our health care system in order to provide quality health care, at an affordable price, to the citizens of our country. It’s no small task, but one we are committed to doing — and doing right.
What the American people wanted is starkly different from what they received. They were told “reform” would help everyone, but now only 4 percent of Americans are currently receiving coverage through an Obamacare exchange, while millions have been harmed. Americans never wanted a complete government takeover or to lose the doctor they trusted. They didn’t ask for federal bureaucrats to get in the middle of their health care choices. They didn’t want to lose their jobs or have their paychecks reduced because federal mandates encouraged their employers to cut back their hours. And most importantly, they did not want false promises about access and costs.
The reality is that 21 states have seen average premium increases of 25 percent or more. Seven states have seen increases of 50 percent or more. In 2016, there were 225 counties with just one insurer. This year, it is 1,022 counties with just one insurer. Five entire states just have one insurer offering coverage on the exchanges.
From the collapsing co-ops to the failures of Healthcare.gov, Obamacare has let down the American people.
We are an ambulance crew that has arrived at the scene of a bad accident with multiple injuries. We have to stop the bleeding, resuscitate patients, and stabilize victims. Not every passenger in every wrecked vehicle requires the same treatment. In fact, some require no treatment at all. It’s our job to sort it all out and deliver relief where it’s needed.
So this month, the American people can expect to see Congress working for them.
The House Energy and Commerce Committee will have a critical role in that effort and we’re getting to work right away with three hearings this week — one before our Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee and two before our Health Subcommittee.
Working with the Trump administration, we’ll take a multi-step, multi-pronged approach to deliver relief and rebuild our health care system so it works for patients. In fact, President Donald Trump’s first major executive order made clear that he is ready to do all in his power to throw a life preserver to American families who are paying more and getting less. The president and our colleagues here in Congress are committed to an important objective — helping make health care accessible for everyone.
In this process, there will be a stability period so that no one receiving coverage under Obamacare has the rug pulled out from underneath them. This is not only fair, but also a commitment from the president, himself.
We want to build a 21st-century health care system that is patient-centered and that makes affordable, high-quality care accessible to all Americans.
This week, Chairman Walden will introduce a bill that maintains protections for those with pre-existing conditions. We will also work toward solutions to allow kids to stay on their parent’s insurance — an idea that Republicans supported even before Obamacare became law. And we will strengthen and expand successful programs such as Health Savings Accounts.
Right off the bat, our committee will start by advancing solutions that rebuild the insurance markets and strengthen the Medicaid program for the most vulnerable.
Make no mistake, we can’t do this alone. But by working together — with patients and families, doctors and nurses, manufacturers and distributors, hospitals and outpatient clinics — we can reach our mutual goal of helping people live healthier lives and giving every American a new opportunity to get affordable health care coverage.
This is our opportunity to repair a broken system that will make a difference in the daily lives of every American. We know there is a Better Way. Together we can make it happen.
Rep. Greg Walden (R-Ore.) is chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee. Rep. Michael C. Burgess (R-Texas) is chairman of the committee’s Health Subcommittee.
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