It has been nearly seven years since the Affordable Care Act (ACA) became law, and the promise made to make healthcare affordable for all Americans now rings hollow.
In the Valley, we have continued to see a lack of access to affordable healthcare. While the ACA - or Obamacare as it is commonly known - has increased the number of people on Medicare and the subsidy on Medicaid, it has failed in giving more doctors the ability or incentive to increase their number of patients. The result is that many of the people who need care the most are still not getting it...meanwhile the costs are skyrocketing for average citizens and business owners.
I understand that Californians are concerned about a repeal of the ACA that does not provide an adequate replacement. Congress is not going to repeal the ACA without a plan. Congress is going to replace the ACA with sustainable healthcare policy focused on affordable care that truly meets all Americans' needs.
Although there are several provisions that I believe are good for Californians - namely, ensuring care for those with pre-existing conditions and allowing children up to age 26 to remain on their parents' plans - overall, the ACA was poorly and hastily-written, with over 20,000 pages of non-sustainable policy. As Nancy Pelosi said, "we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it." That's not the way to legislate, and time has shown the ACA to be a knot of tangled legislation filled with loopholes, taxes, cumbersome regulations and uniform policies.
The ACA's massive Medicaid expansion extended more care for able-bodied adults above poverty compared to those below poverty. When you couple that inequity with a shrinking pool of providers accepting Medicaid, it is clear that those most vulnerable are receiving uneven treatment under the ACA.
Our plan will return Medicaid to its core purpose: to be a stable safety net for low-income children, pregnant women, parents of dependent children, the elderly and individuals with disability.
In the 114th Congress, my colleagues and I introduced over 400 individual bills that sought to improve the failing healthcare system. These bills inspired and laid critical groundwork for the ACA replacement plan. Among those was my Seniors' Right to Know Act, which requires Medicare Advantage providers to notify enrollees in a timely manner if they change any portion of a healthcare plan to comply with the ACA.
But one provision alone cannot undo the unaffordable debacle that is the ACA. The ACA has harmed the labor market by forcing employers to comply with its regulations, causing many businesses to reduce their employees' number of hours worked and subsequently wages earned. It has imposed more than $1 trillion in new taxes on health providers, taxpayers and businesses.
Perhaps most regrettably, the ACA has restricted access to quality healthcare. President Obama promised the American people that they could keep their health plan, their doctor and that premiums would decline by $2,500 a year. Instead, millions of Americans lost their health insurance, lost their doctor and have been subjected to skyrocketing premiums, and employer-sponsored coverage has increased by $3,775.
For these reasons (and more), we are working on a replacement plan to make healthcare affordable and accessible to all Americans; much of what you'll see in the final product is already documented the Republican Conference's A Better Way health care whitepaper. We will come together to produce a thoughtful, sustainable plan to ensure enduring physical and economic health of the nation. This is not something that will be done in haste - and you will know what's in it before we pass it.