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OP-ED: Rep. Andy Biggs: Fixes, delays, or extra money won't undo Obamacare's devastation — only repeal can do that

November 2, 2017
In The News

Before Democrats rammed Obamacare through Congress in 2009, then-Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi told us “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what’s in it.”

Since Obamacare became law, we have all found out what is in it — and even Democrats haven’t liked what they’ve seen. In a desperate attempt to cover up the failures of Obamacare, the Obama administration made more than 40 unilateral changes to Obamacare. One of the controversial changes included providing subsidies to insurance companies. Unfortunately, premiums still soared for most, many experienced a decrease in the quality of care, while others lost their health plans.

Since 2013, individual premiums in states with Obamacare exchanges have increased by an average of 105 percent. My own state of Arizona has fared far worse: average premiums here have nearly tripled over the past four years.

Soaring premiums aren’t the only problem. Every month, insurance premiums pull out of the Obamacare exchanges, leaving Americans with fewer coverage options. Several counties around the country now have only one carrier. Maricopa County, Ariz., which I represent in Congress, falls in this category, despite being one of the most populous counties in the country. But it could be even worse: There are some counties across the country with no remaining exchange carriers.

Before President Trump took office, it was obvious that Obamacare had failed. No amount of fixes, delays, or extra appropriations will be able to undo devastation of Obamacare.

This is the catastrophe that Trump inherited, not one he created. Thankfully, he is beginning to undo some of the damage done by the prior administration. For example, he recently signed an executive order to undo the controversial subsidies to health insurance companies.

These so-called cost-sharing reduction subsidies had been criticized even before Trump took action, and rightly so. In 2016, a federal judge ruled CSR subsidies are unconstitutional because Congress had not authorized and provided permanent funding for them. Unfortunately, the Obama administration appealed the ruling in order to continue the subsidies.

Now that Trump has acted to eliminate CSR subsidies in line with the federal court’s ruling, my colleagues and I must assert our Article One legislative power by codifying the president’s executive order and moving forward with further healthcare reform, including the full repeal of Obamacare – just as we promised voters.

The only way to give true and lasting relief from exorbitant healthcare premiums is to start from scratch and encourage the free market to lead the way. I have introduced a bill to repeal Obamacare after a two-year delay, so that further reforms can be implemented in the interim. Many of my House colleagues have offered similar legislation.

Even if these bills are passed in the House, they will not pass the Senate until the Senate eliminates its self-imposed rules that effectively require 60 votes for almost any legislation to pass the Senate. These arcane, extraconstitutional procedures do not enable Congress to enact bold reforms of the healthcare system. In the end, everyone suffers.

I have joined with President Trump to repeal Obamacare. His willingness to work with Congress to achieve this end has been unparalleled. With control of both chambers of Congress and the White House, Republicans have no one to blame but themselves if they are unable to fully overturn one of the most flawed pieces of legislation in our nation’s history. We cannot fail future generations, and we should not be satisfied with short-term fixes to Obamacare. We must restore all the benefits of market-based health insurance by fully repealing Obamacare.