Last week, Congress came very close to delivering on our promise to repeal and replace Obama Care. For the past seven years, Americans have been burdened by this so-called Affordable Care Act, which caused premiums and deductibles to increase, while choices and providers dwindled. I, along with many of my colleagues in the House, have made repealing this law and replacing it with something that genuinely works, amongst our highest priorities.
Along with Republicans in the House and Senate, President Trump also campaigned heavily to repeal Obamacare, and made it a priority of his presidency. For the past seven years, House Republicans have voted over 70 times to repeal Obamacare, only to face the veto pen by then President Obama. When President Trump was elected, we knew that our opportunity to achieve that objective could become a reality.
Recently, Speaker Paul Ryan introduced the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which was a bill that included provisions to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a working healthcare system that would benefit millions of Americans. It would allow for a market-based system that will give consumers more choices, give states the authority to regulate Medicare and Medicaid to fit the needs of the states, allow people with pre-existing conditions to purchase health insurance and give people under the age of 26 the opportunity to stay on their parents’ plans. Further, it would nullify the burdensome individual and employer mandates from Obamacare, and introduce new tax credits that would provide more flexibility for families.
In Oklahoma, people have suffered far too long from Obamacare’s failures. Premiums have skyrocketed, there is only one remaining insurance provider and people in rural areas have lost access to quality doctors. People deserve better, and the American Health Care Act was that opportunity – it represented a good first step giving Americans a health care system that can work for all.
By no means was this a perfect solution or perfect bill. And it is not likely that Congress will get it right on the first try. However, the legislative process itself has a way of improving and refining public policy. What happened last week with the AHCA was that some allowed ‘perfect’ to be the enemy of the good. In so doing they essentially halted the process itself, thereby shutting off Congress’ and the President’s opportunity to continue working towards a better, more flexible and more affordable health care policy.
I was fully prepared to support the American Health Care Act, should it have come to the House Floor for a vote. This bill was our first and best chance to repeal Obamacare. I am very disappointed that Congress failed to seize this opportunity.
I believe President Trump, Speaker Ryan and House leadership did everything they could to make this bill a working solution. Both of them were in constant contact with the disparate factions and coalitions that make up the Republican Party, and were willing to put their political capital on the line. But at the end of the day, that kind of consensus proved to be elusive.
I commend them, as well as the Republican Conference, for their efforts to understand and accommodate the regional, ideological and economic complexities of health care policy.
Repealing Obamacare and creating a replacement with quality, affordable care should remain a public policy priority. The American people deserve better, and I will continue to work with my colleagues to deliver on our promises.