GOP Rhetoric Requires Obamacare Repeal

REUTERS/Gary Cameron

Larry Obhof President, Ohio Senate
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It is time for members of the U.S. House and Senate to roll up their sleeves and finish the job. Remember how we got here. For the past seven years, Republican candidates at all levels – federal, state, and local – campaigned on the premise that they were opposed to President Obama’s massive health care law. A majority of States sued in an attempt to overturn the law’s individual mandate and the federally-required implementation of the Medicaid expansion. Opposition to the law led to Republican control of Congress in 2010. Arguably, in the years since, continued opposition has helped maintain those majorities as voters across the country awaited a Presidential election that would finally lead to real reform.

Now is the chance for Congress to deliver on those promises. In the midst of the political rhetoric we should keep in mind some key facts. President Obama’s law, and particularly the individual mandate, is an unprecedented expansion of federal power.  It passed the House by a razor-thin margin, bolstered by the votes of many Congressmen who were promptly sent packing by the voters in the 2010 elections.

The results of the ACA have been mixed at best.  While supporters of the law point to people who have gained coverage since 2010, the law has actually decreased the availability of private-sector insurance options and has pushed many into dependency on government.  The overregulation of the insurance market has caused prices to soar and has pushed many providers out of the marketplace.  In Ohio, for example, the average premium for an individual policy increased by more than 90 percent from 2013 to 2017.  Across the country, insurers are leaving the exchanges and in some cases exiting the market altogether.

Two major providers, Anthem and Premier Health, have announced departures from the Ohio exchange in just the last two months.  But this isn’t new – this problem has been building since the beginning of the ACA’s implementation.  Over the past few years the number of providers on Ohio’s exchange has fallen from 17 to 9.  The total number of providers selling insurance products across the state has dropped over the same time frame.  Quite simply, Obamacare has been whittling away at Ohioans’ choices for years.

The consequences of these shifts are as self-evident as they were predicable.  U.S. News & World Report noted last summer that the exodus of providers from the market “is leaving some Americans with only one or no health insurance options.”  And such is the case in Ohio, where by next year at least 20 counties will be left with no providers selling on their local exchanges.

These are big issues.  They should be debated and thoroughly vetted.  But history matters.  The ACA passed by the narrowest of margins, and many (now former) members of Congress paid for their unpopular vote at the ballot box.  The law is now doing exactly what critics predicted back in 2010.  It is driving insurers out of the marketplace; it is taking away options from consumers; and it is literally doubling the cost of insurance in my home state and in other places throughout the country.

It is time for members of Congress to live up to seven years of campaign promises.  It is time for real reform.  It is time to hit the reset button on the ACA.