Republicans in Washington are moving forward with keeping the promise to repeal and replace Obamacare. Right on cue, Democrats and their allies in the media are rallying to defend legislation that has proven so unpopular it’s hard to keep track of the number of Democrats who have been defeated since they imposed the “Affordable” Care Act on the American people.
I was one of the million Californians whose health insurance policy was made illegal by Obamacare – directly contradicting President Obama’s claim that “if you like your plan you can keep your plan.” That promise was swept away in order to make health care “affordable.” But it didn’t do that either, as evidenced by the double digit rate increases we have seen across the country since its passage.
Another Obama promise broken with the passage of Obamacare was the commitment to not raise taxes on anyone making under $250,000 per year. Sadly, many Democrats try to sell their ideological commitment to high taxes by claiming they will only effect someone else, normally “the rich.” Yet, there are not enough rich people in the country to pay for all the Democrats’ promises, which is why promises to not tax the middle class are rarely kept – that’s where the money is.
When House Republicans passed the Obamacare replacement bill on Thursday, they repealed $1 trillion in Obamacare taxes. Let that sink in for a moment – a trillion dollars in tax relief.
Our friends at Americans for Tax Reform compiled a list of the Obamacare tax increases House Republicans tossed onto the ash heap of history: the Individual Mandate Tax, the Employer Mandate Tax, the Medicine Cabinet Tax (on Health Savings Accounts), the Flexible Spending Account tax, the Chronic Care Tax, the HSA withdrawal tax, the 10% excise tax on small businesses with indoor tanning services, the health insurance tax, the 3.8% surtax on investment income, the medical device tax, the tax on prescription medicine, and the tax on retiree prescription drug coverage.
These taxes total over $1 trillion in costs to the American people, who can now apply the savings to purchase health insurance and meet other family needs.
The American Health Care Act now heads to the Senate, where Republican Senators will work to improve the legislation further, or adopt their own version of Obamacare repeal and replace. Predictably, Democrats will object to anything Republicans put forward. The true, objective tests of the final replacement legislation when it is signed by President Trump will be: do rates come down, and do choices go up? Republican arguments against Obamacare centered on these two complaints: rates went up, and choices were limited. Consequently, the Republican vision of health insurance reform must provide solutions in these two key areas.
Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas is leading the fight in the Senate to ensure Republican promises to reduce insurance premiums are kept. Affordability is the only way to increase health insurance access and preserve liberty simultaneously. Democrats have argued millions of Americans have health insurance today who did not have it before Obamacare, which is partially true. This is also true: the policies in many cases have deductibles so high the insurance is worthless.
Americans deserve the opportunity to choose health insurance plans that make sense for their circumstances, with a diverse market offering options and alternatives beyond what the political class in Washington has decided. President Trump deserves full credit for diligently working to keep the promise of replacing Obamacare, and leveraging his authority, publicly and privately, to get the House bill passed and move the process forward.
Obamacare is a demonstrated failure: people could not keep their plans, taxes did in fact go up, millions of Americans had their policies cancelled, and choices have been reduced as insurers pull out of markets that have been made unsustainable. An improved health insurance marketplace with vigorous competition, limited regulation, and maximum choice will serve us better.
Ron Nehring served as Chairman of the California Republican Party from 2007 to 2011 and was the Republican nominee for Lt. Governor of California in 2014. He served as Presidential campaign spokesman for Sen. Ted Cruz.