Public opinion polls show that fewer and fewer are blaming former President Obama for the health care debacle. Fairly or not, the blame is quickly shifting to congressional Republicans ahead of the midterm elections. In fact, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) made clear Democrats will spend the month of August attempting to blame Obamacare’s failures on President Trump and congressional Republicans.
In terms of policy and politics, the path forward is clear: lower costs and better choices.
It’s time Americans are relieved of Obamacare’s high costs and reduced choices. We need insurance that will provide financial security and peace of mind. We need a solution that will protect the sick and vulnerable without burdening the healthy and driving them out of the insurance market.
Work has begun in the states and in Washington to advance these goals. States are seeking federal waivers from Obamacare rules to the fullest extent possible. The Trump administration is using its limited regulatory authority to give people more affordable choices, including allowing small businesses and self-insured people the ability to join larger insurance pools to get better rates and more flexible benefits. It also is reviving what are known as short-term limited-duration policies, which will offer millions of Americans a bridge to retaining coverage and to purchase policies free of the expensive and burdensome Obamacare requirements. Congress also has taken some important steps by eliminating the individual mandate’s tax penalty starting in 2019, ending the dreaded Independent Payment Advisory Board, and delaying some Obamacare taxes.
This step-by-step relief is important, but it is clearly not enough. These actions do not repair the fundamental damage that Obamacare is doing to private health insurance markets. For that, Congress must act.
After efforts to topple Obamacare fell short last year, many in Congress and the administration seem resigned to accepting the status quo. Many were even willing to bail out and prop up the program. But Obamacare is broken, can’t be fixed, and continues to do great harm.
What’s needed is a fresh approach—one that gives Americans more choices of private, affordable coverage while making sure the most vulnerable are protected. The Health Care Choices Proposal would:
- improve choices and lower costs, while protecting vulnerable Americans;
- give flexibility and resources to states to achieve those goals; and
- ensure people can opt into the private coverage of their choice.
Key Talking Points
The Health Care Choices Proposal would:
Empower consumers with more choices. The Health Care Choices Proposal would replace open-ended federal payments to insurance companies with direct grants to states, giving them resources and flexibility to reinvigorate broken private individual and small group markets while also keeping to a fixed budget.
Reduce costs by unwinding heavy federal mandates and allowing states to innovate. States will have the necessary resources and flexibility to create innovative solutions and encourage more competition among insurers on choice and costs. By eliminating some of the costly Obamacare regulations, including the 3:1 age band rating, essential health benefits, single risk pool requirement and others, the Proposal will empower people to access health insurance that is more affordable and widely available.
Refocus subsidies on those who need them most. Taking a page from the success welfare reform of 1996, the Proposal’s direct block grants to the states would enable states to better target assistance to those in need while also ensuring Americans can find affordable private insurance.
Provide security and protect high-cost patients. Today, Obamacare’s subsidy structure enriches insurance companies at the expense of many Americans. The Proposal would give states the resources and flexibility they need to ensure the most-expensive patients are protected but do not raise costs for everyone else.
Ensure that all Americans can choose a private health plan. The Health Care Choices Proposal would give the millions of Americans locked into government-run Medicaid and CHIP programs a better option on the private market through premium support; similar to what conservatives have proposed with Medicare for more than a decade.
Protect life. Funding for these grants to the states would run through the existing Children’s Health Insurance Program which permanently prohibits federal taxpayer dollars from being used to pay for abortions thanks to long-standing Hyde-style protections embedded in the existing law.
These are notes to use when calling your member of Congress. Always remember to make these notes your own and include a personal story if you have one relating to the topic. You can find their phone number on the Heritage Action Scorecard.
Hi, this is [NAME] from [CITY].
I am calling to let [MEMBER OF CONGRESS] know that it is important to me as a constituent that Congress return to the health care debate. Congressional Republicans failed to topple Obamacare last year, in large part because they couldn’t come up with their own health care solution. But failure is not an option now. Millions of Americans continue to suffer under Obamacare. A conservative coalition has worked for the past nine months to develop a plan forward, and I support it.
Please ask [MEMBER OF CONGRESS] to support the Health Care Choices Proposal. Obamacare is fundamentally unworkable and cannot be fixed.
Premiums will continue rising absent significant reform. I would like [MEMBER OF CONGRESS] to fight for individuals in our district so patients can select the private health insurance plans and doctors of our choice. States can and will help the poor and sick without making coverage so costly for the young and healthy—but we see that Obamacare’s one-size-fits-all approach does not work. We need reform that block grants funding back to the states and empowers individuals.
I would like [MEMBER OF CONGRESS] to return to the health care debate immediately and support the Health Care Choices Proposal when it is introduced.
Thank you, and please pass along my message to [MEMBER OF CONGRESS].
Below is a sample letter to the editor. We encourage you to adapt and personalize the letter below. Heritage Action Regional Coordinators are always here to help edit your letter and get it published.
A New Path to Give Americans Better Choices than Obamacare
Washington politicians have repeatedly broken their promises to fix our health insurance markets.
Millions of Americans remain stuck in Obamacare exchanges, paying more for less, while others are being driven out of the market altogether. Insurance premiums have shot up for policies that have ridiculously high deductibles. As for choices, the Obamacare exchanges offer few options and the provider networks get smaller with each passing year.
Obamacare’s regulations and open-ended subsidies to insurers have all but destroyed competition in the health insurance markets. It’s time for Congress to fulfill its promise and release Americans from the damaging grips of Obamacare.
One way to do this is to give states the flexibility and authority to restore competition to their health insurance markets, while providing choice to all residents and protecting vulnerable patients.
State and national experts have put together the Health Care Choices Proposal to do just that. I’ve read through this plan, and I encourage you to check it out.
The Health Care Choices Proposal deals with the two biggest problems with Obamacare—that health care costs shot up while plan options plummeted. This is the next step to finally toppling Obamacare.
It’s time for federal lawmakers to deliver the health reform that they promised. Otherwise, Americans will continue to suffer under Obamacare, and the Left will push for a government-run single-payer system that will destroy patient choice and bankrupt taxpayers.