Americans deserve better than Obamacare

Published 7:00 am Thursday, May 26, 2016

Our fight continues against an unworkable health-care law. The President may have vetoed Congress’s repeal of Obamacare, but the evidence against the law is hard to deny.
• Americans are paying higher health-care premiums. In the federal exchange, premiums have risen by an average of 12.7 percent for bronze plans and by 7.5 percent for silver plans since last year. These drastic increases have not gone unnoticed. A recent survey showed 76 percent of Americans are concerned about rising insurance costs. In another poll, health-care costs are families’ top financial concern – more so than losing a job. Drug costs are adding to the problem, rising nearly 16 percent last year.
• Americans have fewer health-care choices.
The country’s largest health insurer, UnitedHealth, has left the insurance exchanges in at least 26 states, finding them no longer financially viable. Other major insurers are joining UnitedHealth’s exit, with Humana – the fifth-largest insurer nationwide – leaving at least five states.
What does all of this mean for consumers, especially those in rural areas, which already face major shortages of insurance providers?
There will be little or no competition to keep premiums in check. Rather than picking the insurer that best fits their health-care needs, residents in most of Mississippi’s counties are likely to have only a single insurer offering Obamacare plans in 2017.
The lack of choice in the health-care law’s online marketplaces is even more widespread in Alaska, Alabama, and Wyoming, where only one insurer is offering Obamacare plans.
The Kaiser Family Foundation suggests that more than 650 U.S. counties could be limited to one provider in 2017, more than doubling the number of counties with a sole insurer last year.
• The Obama Administration is defying our system of checks and balances. Obamacare has had no shortage of legal challenges, and a recent ruling provides yet another example of the Administration’s flouting of the Constitution. Earlier this month, a federal judge agreed with congressional Republicans that the Administration does not have the authority to pay billions of dollars to health insurance companies for lowering out-of-pocket costs for low-income Americans.
In keeping with the Constitution’s separation of powers, Congress controls the power of the purse. U.S. District Court Judge Rosemary Collyer ruled in the case that the Administration cannot unilaterally spend taxpayer dollars on health-care subsidies. Instead, they can be allocated only through the legislative branch’s appropriations process.
Americans deserve better health-care reforms – ones that hold true to their promises of lower costs and greater choice. Obamacare has become less and less popular, reaching a 54 percent disapproval rating this year – the highest in two years.
Four cases against the law have reached the Supreme Court, with the latest challenge – involving the law’s infringement on religious liberty – sent back to the lower courts by the justices, essentially calling on the Administration to make additional accommodations for religious convictions.
The Republican-led Congress has already shown it is willing to remove the law in favor of market-based policies that truly facilitate more affordable and accessible health-care coverage.
Lawmakers followed through on their promises to the American people with a repeal of the law.
The White House disagreed, instead vetoing this repeal, but we have an opportunity to end the law once and for all with the next Administration.

By Senator Roger Wicker

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