"Fixing" Healthcare ... Again | Citizens Against Government Waste

"Fixing" Healthcare ... Again

The WasteWatcher

On Monday, June 29, House Democrats brought to the floor H.R. 1425, the “Patient Protection and Affordable Care Enhancement Act,’’ to “fix” healthcare, something that the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), or Obamacare, was supposed to do.  The bill was brought to the floor with no bipartisan committee input and no amendments allowed, and the final vote was 234 to 179.  Only two Republicans voted for the legislation, Reps. Brian Fitzpatrick (Penn.) and Jefferson Van Drew (N.J.), and Rep. Collin Peterson was the only Democrat to vote “nay.”  House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) had announced in May the House would vote on legislation that would “expand and improve” Obamacare, but the vote had been delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

It is getting confusing trying to figure out what the Democrats support when it comes to healthcare.  For more than two years, there has been a huge push to implement Medicare for All.  As of today, 118 Democratic members, or 50 percent of the caucus, support that legislation, H.R. 1384.  Now it appears they are veering back toward ACA with H.R. 1425.

In this new round, the American people are being told that H.R. 1425 will lower healthcare costs by providing a $10 billion “affordability fund” for state reinsurance programs.  There will be money for states to establish their own Obamacare exchanges but many people will remember that several state exchanges failed during ACA’s first iteration and had to rely on the federal government to run them, like those in Hawaii, New Mexico and Oregon.  There is also $100 million each year for ACA advertising costs and in-person enrollment assistance, and the states will be allowed to expand Medicaid with a 100 percent federal matching rate for three years.  If this all seems familiar, you are right.  Much of this was already tried and money was wasted in failed exchanges, incompetent navigators, and increased dependency on government bureaucrats.

These are the same politicians that promised Americans that ACA would lower premiums by $2,500 per family per year and that you could keep your doctor and health plan.

How will all this extra spending be paid for?  By imposing price controls on pharmaceuticals.  The provisions in this legislation are like those found in H.R. 3, the “Lower Drug Costs Now Act.”  That bill would put the federal government in charge of pharmaceutical development due to its heavy regulatory hammer and punishing taxes.  It would adopt price controls found in six countries, Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Japan, and the United Kingdom.  These countries have kept their drug prices artificially low and as a result have severely damaged their biopharmaceutical research and now free-ride on U.S. research and development.

While the use of price controls might lower drug prices in the short run, in the long run the policy would destroy American biopharmaceutical innovation and life-saving pharmaceuticals would be delayed or never discovered.  Investors, including those that manage retirement accounts, would not invest in biopharmaceutical companies controlled by bureaucrats and politicians.  Investors would risk their money elsewhere and it would not be long before the U.S. biopharmaceutical industry would be a shadow of itself and there would be no “savings” that would pay for an expanded ACA.

H.R. 1425 would also eliminate regulatory reform initiatives implemented by the Trump administration that currently offer more choices in health insurance, like short-term limited-duration health insurance plans.  It would revoke 1332 State Relief and Empowerment Waivers.  These provisions have been successful in lowering healthcare premiums in several states and at the same time, protecting people with pre-existing conditions.

This bill is really a messaging bill for the 2020 election because it will not pass the Senate and President Trump has said he would veto it.  It is also a feeble attempt to provide a response to the lawsuit, Texas v. United States, which is challenging the constitutionality of Obamacare.  In spite of the hysterical rhetoric surrounding this lawsuit, It is important to remember no one will see their healthcare insurance change as the case goes through the litigation process and should the court rule with the plaintiffs, people’s insurance would not simply disappear.

There are alternatives to fixing the current state of our healthcare.  One is “A Framework for Personalized, Affordable Care” that has been offered by the House Republican Study Committee and another is the “American Healthcare Choices Plan,” that has the support of several senators.  Both establish a patient-centered, consumer choice approach to reforming healthcare by taking power out of Washington, D.C., allowing patients to takeback control over their healthcare decisions, preserving tax dollars, and protecting those with pre-existing conditions.

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