It seems like every time we turn on the television today, we see elected officials fighting about President Obama’s health care law.
What’s missing from this debate is any real discussion about fixing the problems with health care. Democrats and Republicans seem more interested in scoring political points than finding common-ground on bipartisan solutions.
However you look at it, the Affordable Care Act is hurting Californians. When they sign up, individuals expecting promised savings are instead facing the sticker shock of sky-high premiums. Approximately 59,000 Californians have signed up for a plan through Covered California since October 1st. Nationwide, just 106,000 people have signed up for coverage – including those who had to navigate through a broken website to do so.
The experiences other countries have had with government health care show what we will soon see in the United States. In Canada, the median wait time to see a doctor is 18.2 weeks. In France, the health care system is facing a 5.1 billion Euro deficit. One analyst called the French system, “unaffordable, unsustainable and the manner in which it’s financed is a huge burden on the economy.”
The Affordable Care Act also threatens the availability and quality of care. Two out of every five physicians’ practices said they were unsure whether they will continue seeing patients under the new law. Meanwhile, we will need to find up to 150,000 new doctors nationwide over the next decade to fill a looming shortage.
We cannot sit back and let Obamacare hurt the economy and our health care system. It’s time for Democrats and Republicans to come together and solve the problems caused by the new law.
First, instead of trading partisan charges, we should be able to work across party lines to support reforms that we can all agree upon. For example, we can act to ensure that no one is denied coverage for a pre-existing condition by expanding high-risk pools. These reforms can be adopted without subjecting patients to a massive big government health care bureaucracy.
Second, elected officials must listen to the people for a change and keep their promises. Californians who buy health care on the individual market should be able to keep their plans, just as the President promised them.
Third, we must go a step further and enact free-market reforms that have been proposed by Republicans for years, but which have fallen on deaf ears with our colleagues across the aisle.
These alternatives include allowing health insurance policies to be sold across state lines, utilizing the tax code to give Americans tax deductions and credits for what they spend on health premiums and enacting legal reforms so health costs are not driven up by junk lawsuits. We should also allow Californians to utilize tax-advantaged health savings accounts, which when coupled with high-deductible catastrophic coverage, can provide a cheaper alternative for many individuals.
It’s time to restore the doctor-patient relationship and put patients back in charge of their health care decision-making and our reforms will do just that. Free market reforms would also make it more affordable for patients – especially those in lower-income households – to get coverage without growing government.
Lawmakers in Sacramento and Washington must act now to minimize the damage that will be caused to the health care system relied upon by every one of us to stay alive. The alternative – a future of rising costs, rationed care and more people losing their jobs and their current plans under the Affordable Care Act – serves no one well.
North State Assemblyman Dan Logue is Vice Chair of the Assembly Health Committee.