Congress took important steps toward Obamacare repeal

Published 12:38 am Saturday, March 11, 2017

By Rep. Martha Roby

It’s no secret that the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, has made a mess of our nation’s health care system. Many in Alabama and throughout the country were forced away from the health care plan and doctor they liked, despite promises to the contrary.

The law’s ill-conceived web of taxes, mandates, and regulations has driven up costs for everyday families by huge margins. This year alone, premiums in Alabama are rising by an average of 58 percent, which comes on top of already steep increases over the last two years. The average deductible for the cheapest plan in Alabama is now $6,000. As more insurers flee the individual marketplace, it is now more clear than ever that Obamacare is crumbling.

Republicans have campaigned for years on repealing this law and replacing it with policies that actually drive down costs and offer better choices. In this past election, President Trump and congressional Republicans were crystal clear about our promise to repeal and replace Obamacare, and we are committed to keeping that promise. I’m pleased to report that this work has now begun, as last week the American Health Care Act was introduced in the House of Representatives.

This bill dismantles Obamacare’s core taxes, mandates, and spending. It cuts taxes on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, health insurance premiums, and medical devices. It eliminates the individual and employer mandate penalties that have forced millions into expensive, inadequate Obamacare insurance plans that they don’t want and can’t afford. The plan replaces the Obamacare entitlement with refundable tax credits so that people who don’t receive insurance through their employer have the same tax benefit as those who do.

As the bill moves through Congress, it is worth noting that congressional Republicans and the Trump Administration are going about this process much differently than those who gave us Obamacare. You may remember that when pushing the Affordable Care Act through Congress, then-Speaker Nancy Pelosi famously said they had to “pass it so you can see what’s in it.” Not this time.

Republicans are repealing and replacing Obamacare in a transparent way. I encourage you to go online to to read the bill for yourself. Instead of one huge bill like Obamacare, we are using a more responsible, three-step approach that will help lead to better policy.

First, this bill to repeal Obamacare with all its taxes, mandates, and spending will move forward through a procedure called budget reconciliation.

Next, the Trump Administration will use its executive authority to weed out the more intricate Obamacare policies one by one. Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price is preparing to use his regulatory flexibility to implement policies that will further stabilize the market and lower costs.

Finally, Congress will move forward with legislation addressing more specific policies, such as allowing individuals to purchase insurance across state lines.

This is just the first step in this process, but it is an important one. I will keep you updated as we proceed.

Martha Roby represents Alabama’s Second Congressional District.