All across Idaho, families and small-business owners are struggling to keep up with skyrocketing health care costs caused by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), better known as Obamacare. If you’ve seen your health insurance premiums rise in the past few years, it’s almost certainly because of ACA regulations. Every day, I hear health care horror stories from across the state.
Anthony Miller from Kuna was notified a few months ago that his health care coverage was going to increase $12,000, forcing him to drop his insurance to the bare minimum. Lisa Allbrett in Boise is frustrated because her premium has doubled and her deductible has gone up $1,500, but she has to keep her expensive plan in order to avoid paying the Obamacare tax. David Weak in Eagle purchased a Medicare Advantage plan, but when his rate increased 127% in one year, he was forced to sign up for a lower-level plan.
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Since the implementation of Obamacare, the annual profits of the 10 largest health insurers doubled from 2008 to 2015 and Idahoans have had to pay more. From 2016 to 2017 alone, the average Idahoan experienced a 24 percent increase in their health insurance premiums.
This is not what the American people were promised when the Democrats passed Obamacare. And this is exactly why we must fully repeal the ACA and replace it with a system that lowers the cost of health care.
Last week, the U.S. House was scheduled to vote on the American Health Care Act (AHCA), a bill that supporters claimed would repeal and replace Obamacare. There was, however, one huge problem: It didn’t actually repeal Obamacare. I opposed this bill, and I was pleased when a vote on the measure was canceled.
When I first ran for Congress, I promised my constituents that I would help lead the fight against Obamacare. I’ve kept that promise by voting to repeal President Obama’s signature health care law or significant portions of it 52 times in the past six years.
Last week, I would have voted for a bill that actually repealed and replaced Obamacare. But the AHCA was not that bill. Critics of the bill called it “Obamacare Lite” or “Obamacare 2.0” and those criticisms were not unfair. In proposing a health care bill, the House Republican leadership should have done better.
House leadership should have drafted a bill that kept the promises made to the American people in documents like the “Pledge to America,” signed by House Republicans in 2010, and the “Contract with the American Voter,” issued by Donald Trump as a presidential candidate last year.
During negotiations, conservatives in the House insisted that Congress repeal Obamacare’s prohibition on less expensive health care plans and the knot of insurance regulations and mandates that are making health coverage so unaffordable.
Many people believe that these mandates are necessary to protect the most vulnerable in our society, especially those with pre-existing conditions. However, we can provide these protections without costly mandates. In fact, I support the Republican plan to set aside over $100 billion to help those with pre-existing conditions. Those who say we must accept a government takeover of America’s health care system in order to cover the most vulnerable are creating a false choice. We can protect those who most need our help while lowering health care costs for all Americans.
When it comes to health care, it’s more important to do it right than to do it quickly. I will continue working with my colleagues to keep my promises and not to give up at the first sign of struggle.
Rep. Raúl Labrador, a Republican, is a member of the U.S. House representing Idaho’s 1st District.