Oct 16, 2020 | Editorials, Health Care

As the Senate considers Judge Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination to the Supreme Court, health care has emerged as a top issue. Senate Democrats have repeatedly and falsely asserted that Republicans are conspiring to rob Americans of their health coverage. The truth is that President Trump and Republicans are working to improve our broken health care system.

Obamacare has been an abysmal failure. The so-called Affordable Care Act (ACA) destroyed marketplace competition, increased monthly premiums, and caused Americans to lose access to their preferred insurance and doctors. In fact, monthly premiums more than doubled, and annual premiums increased by an average of nearly $3,000 under Obamacare. Insurers were forced out of the marketplace, leaving Americans with little or no choice. Millions of Americans were left behind because they couldn’t afford an ACA-compliant policy, and the individual mandate destroyed health care freedom.

I’ve seen this firsthand. My own family was hit hard by Obamacare. Prior to my service in Congress, my wife and I worked blue-collar jobs. Like many American families, we had to make tough financial decisions each month. We found ourselves having to choose between purchasing health insurance and putting groceries on the table. That was our reality, and it’s one shared by many.

Democrats say the solution is a one-size-fits-all government takeover through Medicare for All. Their plan would cost tens of trillions of dollars and eliminate private health insurance for millions of American families. It gives DC bureaucrats control over health care decisions, rather than doctors. I stand against this approach.

Instead, Republicans are working to increase choice, lower costs, and improve care. I supported the effort to repeal and replace Obamacare in 2017. Though that effort fell short in the Senate, we’re working to enact many of the underlying policy solutions through both legislative and executive action. We want to restore free-market principles, give Americans greater control over their own health care decisions, and lower the cost of care. This is the Republican solution, and we’re working with President Trump to advance these priorities.

We are empowering patients with increased choice and competition. This is why we restored health care freedom and repealed the individual mandate through the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. We’ve worked to expand Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and provide greater flexibility over how those funds are used. We’ve allowed small businesses who are priced out of Obamacare to pursue more affordable coverage options, issued waivers to help states lower premiums, and supported the expansion of telehealth services in our rural communities.

Further, we’ve worked to lower the cost of health care with efforts to end surprise medical billing, ensure pricing transparency, and address prescription drug prices. Under President Trump’s leadership, we’ve seen record-setting generic drug approvals and prescription costs decline for the first time in 50 years. However, more work is required on this front. We must continue empowering the FDA to fast-track cheaper off-label drugs, and we should pursue the importation of lower-cost alternatives from trading partners like Canada. This can be done in a bipartisan manner without compromising cutting-edge research or the production of new medicines.

At the foundation of improving care is a commitment to protect those with pre-existing conditions and ensure access to your trusted doctors. I support these protections, my Republican colleagues support these protections, and President Trump supports these protections. I have voted for legislation that ensures coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions, and I’ll continue to do so.

Additionally, we are working to develop new treatments and therapeutics through health care innovation. This includes the creation of a safe and effective vaccine for COVID-19 as well as ongoing research to treat and cure medical conditions like cancer, heart disease, Alzheimer’s, and others. We support investments and public-private partnerships that make these health care innovations possible. We have also advanced legislation that gives terminally ill patients the right to try, which means greater access to experimental and potentially life-saving medical treatments.

These are specific policies that we’re working to enact at the federal level. Our health care agenda is substantive. It is focused on free-market solutions and puts American families first. We will continue this important work to deliver better, more affordable care for all Americans.

Congressman Clay Higgins represents Louisiana’s 3rd District in the U.S. House of Representatives.

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