Reps. Burgess, Price, Roe: Our diagnosis as doctors — ObamaCare is about to collapse

ObamaCare is collapsing. Its utter failures become more obvious by the day.

We all remember the promises of ObamaCare, chief among them that the “Affordable Care Act” would lower health care costs. The opposite has occurred.

In his 2008 campaign for president, then-candidate Sen. Barack Obama repeatedly promised to cut annual health insurance premiums by $2,500. When he took office in 2009, annual family premiums for employer-provided coverage, the most common of private insurance coverage, cost $13,375 according to Kaiser. In 2016, those premiums are $18,142. That’s an increase of $4,767.

ObamaCare exchanges were setup with the intent of providing access to private health insurance to those Americans not currently offered health care coverage through an employer, Medicare, or Medicaid – a group otherwise left without any additional financial support to purchase coverage.

Younger, healthier individuals have little interest in paying exorbitant premiums for insurance plans that come with $5,000 deductibles. The result has been an unbalanced insurance pool where insurers must charge ever-increasing premiums to continue offering coverage.

Despite the offer of subsidies through the exchanges, enrollment in ObamaCare has been dismal.

Back in 2010 just before ObamaCare became law, President Obama’s Department of Health and Human Services forecast there would be 24.8 million individuals in the exchanges by 2016. The actual figure at the end of 2016 according to Avalere Health will be 10.1 million.

In short, the exchanges are failing. The plans available are too expensive and come with too few choices. Younger, healthier individuals have little interest in paying exorbitant premiums for insurance plans that come with $5,000 deductibles. The result has been an unbalanced insurance pool where insurers must charge ever-increasing premiums to continue offering coverage.

Predictably, as the risk pools worsen, premiums skyrocket and insurers withdraw.

Just in the last two weeks, we have seen Minnesota’s average 2017 premiums go up 56 percent. Oklahoma’s are up 76 percent. The average increase is 24 percent across the 37 states that have officially approved rates for 2017.

When pressed for a response to this affordability issue, one Obama administration official essentially said it is not a problem because people get subsidies to cover the increases. This mentality assumes, falsely, that taxpayer dollars are infinite, and that it is okay to ignore the dangerous dynamics that are leading to a failing insurance market. Bill Clinton was right to call ObamaCare a “crazy system.”

Not only are premiums skyrocketing, but individuals are also left with fewer choices in the ObamaCare exchanges.

Major insurers like UnitedHealthcare and Aetna have announced withdrawals from the exchanges. In fact, more than two-thirds of the 3,100 counties across the country are losing exchange insurers in 2017. Less than 1 percent of counties will be gaining coverage options. Choices empower consumers, but that power is rapidly disappearing under the Obamacare system.

The dwindling number of ObamaCare supporters repeatedly point to the fact that 20 million more Americans have coverage now than before ObamaCare.

The vast majority of those 20 million, however, have been dropped into a failing Medicaid program. Patients under our broken Medicaid system struggle to find doctors who see Medicaid patients.

It is a top-down system that has Washington dictating terms to the states that ignore the diverse needs of communities across this country. That is not a recipe for success, and studies have shown that Medicaid’s impact on the health status of enrollees is negligible.

Regardless, 31 states expanded their Medicaid programs under Obamacare. However, it is not going as promised. According to Dr. Brian Blase at the Mercatus Center, there are 50 percent more enrollees at a cost of 50 percent more per person than originally projected. These massive, unanticipated costs will only become more unaffordable in the coming years.

Those governors and state legislatures that rejected the Medicaid expansion have been vindicated. Not coincidentally, the non-expansion states have more pro-business climates, lower unemployment, and more robust economic growth – all of which contribute to more opportunities for more Americans to achieve success and provide for themselves and their families.

Hillary Clinton’s solution is to double down on ObamaCare with more government involvement in health care. She believes the fundamentals of the law are sound and it simply needs more taxpayer subsidies.

Her other scheme is to add a so-called “public option” plan even though we’ve already seen the disastrous ObamaCare co-op experience – the original compromise to a public option in the ACA. Under the law, 23 states setup co-ops (state-based public options) and accepted nearly $2 billion in federal loans, and yet 17 of these co-ops have collapsed with the rest on the verge of collapse, leaving hundreds of thousands of individuals without insurance while facing penalties under ObamaCare’s individual mandate. Notably, Clinton’s running mate Senator Tim Kaine is not among the 32 Democratic Senators cosponsoring Senate Resolution 561 calling for a public option.

Finally, as if ObamaCare’s total collapse is not imminent enough, Clinton also wants to add illegal immigrants to ObamaCare at the same time that America’s veterans aren’t getting the care they deserve.

One column is not nearly enough space to chronicle all of ObamaCare’s failures. Additional dishonorable mentions include the president’s illegal bailouts of big health insurance companies, as well as a finding by the Government Accountability Office that 100 percent of their investigators with fake documents were able to fraudulently enroll in ObamaCare.

You can’t make this stuff up.

Next year with President Trump and a Republican Congress we will do better. We will fight for a patient-centered system where patients, families, and doctors are making medical decisions, not Washington.

Dr. Michael Burgess (R-Texas) is a senior member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee.

Dr. Tom Price (R-Georgia) is Chairman of the House Budget Committee.

Dr. Phil Roe (R-Tennessee) is chairman of the House Republican Doctors Caucus.



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