Next Tuesday, Congress will reconvene for a lame duck session in order to tie up loose ends before the end of the year. While it’s unlikely we’ll see anything on the health care front, it’s important that we push conservative lawmakers to take immediate action on the issue at the start of the 112th Congress. The new Congress doesn’t begin until January 5, but that doesn’t mean we should delay in putting ideas on the table and helping to educate Members now.
Nina Owcharenko, Director of the Center for Health Policy Studies at the Heritage Foundation, just released a great report entitled “Repealing Obamacare and Getting Health Care Right.” In the piece, Owcharenko lays out a great plan of attack for the new Congress and those Americans wondering where we go from here.
First step. Fight for full repeal. Immediate success in this endeavor will be inevitably difficult given the Senate landscape and a Democratic President, but that shouldn’t deter Members from churning out an honest attempt. While working to achieve repeal, Owcharenko says, “Members should continue to focus on the failures and consequences of the new law, block its implementation at every opportunity, and exert strong oversight over the implementation process.” The best and most straightforward approach to blocking provisions is to defund them, thus making it difficult for agencies to follow through with the new regulations. When considering defunding, the CLASS Act, new 1099 requirement, changes to Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), and the Cadillac Tax are good places to start. Owcharenko also suggests prohibiting funds from going toward Internal Revenue Service efforts to hire new agents to enforce the egregious individual mandate.
While she emphasizes the need for full repeal of the law, she also provides positive alternatives in the form of targeted policies. In the midst of the health care debate, we must remember that we can’t merely strive for repeal and no further action. Our current system is in need of reform, but it’s free-market solutions, focused on patient choice, that will ultimately prove to be the right cure for our health care woes.
Here are a few of Owcharenko's market-based ideas that she believes will begin to move our health care system in the right direction:
- Provide individual tax relief for all persons purchasing private health insurance, regardless of where they work;
- Eliminate barriers to individuals purchasing health care coverage that best suits their personal needs across state lines;
- Promote new group purchasing arrangements based on individual membership organizations and various associations;
- Improve consumer-directed health options (such as health savings accounts, health reimbursement arrangements, and flexible spending accounts) that encourage greater transparency and consumer control over health care decisions;
- Expand states’ ability to develop consumer-based reforms that enable states to customize solutions for their citizens;
- Increase federal and state efforts to combat fraud and abuse in Medicaid, including tightening eligibility loopholes in Medicaid for long-termcare services;
- Stop new tax increases and promote tax cuts that would expand private insurance coverage and grow the economy.
She lists several others in her report, so I’d encourage all of you to check it out! Mind you, we must remember that full repeal of Obamacare is critical before a more positive alternative can be delivered though a step-by-step, fully transparent legislative process. Rest assured we will stay on the forefront of this very important issue and will keep all of you in the loop as developments arise.