Wednesday, March 8, 2017

REPEAL AND REPLACE

Whether one supports Obamacare or detests it, the need for change is well beyond partisanship. Our first attempt at making health coverage more affordable is currently failing, as many exchanges lack adequate choice. Also, the cost of premiums is rising. The status quo is clearly unacceptable. Moreover, keeping the status quo to protect the legacy of a former leader is irresponsible, considering the impact on the public. 

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Protecting the vulnerable is important, but so is ensuring the availability of quality health insurance policies. As insurers eliminated products no longer deemed cost effective, consumers lost their preferred plans, in favor of more limited plans. Considering the loss of covered care and higher premium rates, the harm to consumers is undeniable. Instead of preserving the status quo, policy makers need to focus on fixing market conditions to insure the maximum number of people with affordable policies, which actually meet the needs of the consumer. 

While Democrats crafted Obamacare in the privacy of both their Congressional offices and the Obama White House, the GOP is taking a more transparent approach. But, to this point, the draft appears to be Democrat Light. In the recent revelation, the controversial individual mandate is replaced by a 30% premium, which encourages stability in marketplace. Additionally, refundable tax credits replace subsidies to reduce the cost of care. Supporters believe the ideas will improve market conditions, lower costs, and increase availability of products, despite opposition claiming loss of coverage outweigh any benefit. 

Conservatives want a complete repeal, but pulling back an entitlement already in place is something government never accomplished. Likewise, making slight cosmetic changes potentially shifts blame to the GOP, rather than solves the issues with the failing program. Whereas the draft released is a nice start, GOP leaders will need to work harder to achieve a suitable repeal and replacement that provides an effective replacement. 

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Since many people are already stuck in the failing program, consideration for these individuals is important, ensuring any changes will not negatively impact promises made to them. For those not in the program, providing an alternative solution is a preferable path. Furthermore, health care reform needs to be done with economic focus, avoiding the mistakes by Democrats of incorporating politics into the program that fail to serve the consumers’ needs.

Given the number of leading insurance companies set to pull out of exchanges nationwide, something needs to be done. Breaking down state barriers that elevates prices is important. Now, the GOP needs to demonstrate an alternative that expands coverage, provides policies consumers actually wants, and allows for actual affordable health care. The Democrats failed. Hopefully the GOP learned from their mistakes. Wait and see.

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