Changes needed to make healthcare more affordable
Ted Cruz and Mark Meadows:
...This is the smartest thing I have seen on healthcare reform legislation. The Senate should make these revisions and send it back to the House if it does not come over in this form.
First, we must lower insurance premiums. Nothing matters more. The current House bill would not achieve this, because it doesn’t repeal all of ObamaCare’s insurance mandates. Of the few it addresses, the bill delays their repeal. We must abolish ObamaCare’s mandates immediately; Americans need relief from higher premiums and cannot wait until 2020 or beyond.
The single biggest factor causing frustration with ObamaCare is skyrocketing costs. The average family’s annual premiums on employer-sponsored plans under the law have increased by more than $5,000. The insurance mandates are a primary driver of these spikes. If we leave these mandates in place or delay their repeal, premiums will remain too high for too long, as studies by the Congressional Budget Office and others have shown. If premiums continue to skyrocket, we will have failed, and Americans will rightly direct their frustration at the ballot box toward the Republican majority.
We cannot give voters a procedural excuse for why we couldn’t get the job done. Some have argued, incorrectly, that the Senate’s Byrd Rule precludes repealing these insurance mandates through the reconciliation process. That simply isn’t true. The current version of the bill already repeals or modifies a few of the mandates. Why wouldn’t we repeal all the major insurance mandates for the sake of truly lower health-care costs? How can modifying a mandate comply with Byrd, but repealing it not comply? Both have billions in budgetary effect, the central prerequisite for reconciliation.
To further lower premiums, we should allow families to pay for health insurance from expanded health savings accounts. Allowing premium payments from HSAs would reduce costs, provide greater parity between employer and individual coverage, and encourage insurance portability, which also directly addresses concerns related to pre-existing conditions.
Second, we shouldn’t replace ObamaCare’s subsidies with yet another health-care entitlement. Instead, we should implement nonrefundable tax credits, which can be deducted from payroll taxes for lower earners. Anyone who gets a paycheck has a large amount withheld by payroll taxes. Thus, this nonrefundable credit would benefit lower-income individuals by letting them keep more of what they earn.
Third, ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion should be immediately frozen and then phased out over time. A freeze wouldn’t take away coverage from any person currently enrolled—it wouldn’t pull the rug out from anybody—but it would prevent states from adding more enrollees to the expansion population, which the federal government would be responsible for funding.