Time to act on some pieces of Obamacare
By State Rep. Glen Mulready
One thing upon which most Oklahomans agree is that former President Obama’s signature legislation, the Affordable Care Act, has been disastrous for most Oklahoma consumers. The regulatory framework of the ACA has led to higher prices and fewer choices for insurance consumers. While Congress works to craft an alternative, there is no doubt this law needs to be repealed.
Repealing the ACA, however, is not the panacea. It must be repealed and replaced in a way that provides stability for consumers and the industry, else Republicans and the Trump administration risk a failed response becoming their signature. I am pleased our Republicans in Washington have introduced legislation and are working through the process.
While “watching the sausage be made” is not always pleasant, this process is far superior to when Obamacare was originally passed, as now we have been given a chance to read it. Yes, there are hiccups along the way (such as pulling the vote in the U.S. House last week), but we must support a process that leads to an outcome that benefits consumers. Nobody ever thought the original bill would be the final piece of legislation, but we have to get the ball moving.
It’s time to act on at least some aspects of the ACA. For example, Congress needs to keep the Health Insurance Tax from going into effect. Congress delayed its implementation last year, and needs to make certain it doesn’t reach into the pockets of Oklahomans before a replacement for the ACA is enacted. We need Congress to act to make certain this issue does not get lost in the flurry of activity happening in Washington, D.C.
There is no one-size-fits-all insurance plan. Different families, individuals and even states have different needs. As Congress looks to create more stability in the insurance markets, I ask them to look at giving states more flexibility and let states be the innovators. While Congress needs to permit the sale of insurance across state lines, insurance needs to remain under state regulatory enforcement. States should be able to enact health reforms related to physical fitness and nutrition programs at the grade-school level and states should be able to innovate in health care delivery mechanisms such as telemedicine, and others, to benefit their state’s particular needs.
The best way to keep health care and health insurance costs from spiraling is to reject the creeping sentiment that health insurance is an entitlement rather than an insurance product. We must return to a free market, grounded in fair and limited regulatory oversight, which is predicated on constitutional freedoms and rights. This structure presents the best possibility of delivering sustainable access and affordability in the marketplace going forward.
I look forward to Oklahoma’s federal delegation helping replace the ACA by creating marketplace stabilization, allowing states to innovate, and ultimately allowing more Oklahomans to afford and tailor insurance coverage to fit their needs.
Mulready, R-Tulsa, represents District 68 in the Oklahoma House.