As members of Congress, we work every day to be the voice of Georgians in our nation’s capital. While we represent different areas, one message we hear as we listen to constituents is resounding: Obamacare has hurt their loved ones and livelihoods and it must go.
In 2007, President Obama said, “I will sign a universal health care bill into law by the end of my first term as president that will cover every American and cut the cost of a typical family’s premium by up to $2,500 a year.” As many predicted at the time, this has turned out to be an empty campaign promise for Georgia families.
Consider the case of Bob Joiner, an independent advisor in South Georgia. His wife, Kim, is an audiologist who works in a small practice that does not provide health care benefits. Bob and Kim exercise regularly, watch their nutrition, and are fortunate to have no health problems. They also have a 28-year-old son, Wesley.
In 2016, Bob’s monthly health care premium increased 134 percent and his son’s climbed an astonishing 190 percent. In total, their 2016 annual premiums were $4,285.56 for their son Wesley and $19,026.12 for Bob and Kim. The Joiners should have been hopeful that in 2017 they could change their plan for something more affordable, but thanks to Obamacare, that wasn’t the case.
This year, only one Obamacare-compliant plan was accessible to them on the healthcare.gov website. An additional policy featuring a high deductible with lower premiums was available, however, the plan was not Obamacare-compliant, leaving the Joiners subjected to the Affordable Care Act (ACA) penalty.
Before Obamacare, the Joiner family’s annual premium for the whole family was $7,428.00. At the time, they had access to multiple providers and dozens of plan designs. Unfortunately, Obamacare has brought chaos into this health care system.
The Joiners are not alone when they explain they are unable to save for retirement or pay down their mortgage because of oppressive increases in health care costs. Patients across the country now face this grim reality because Obamacare has failed.
Just as the Joiners saw, patient costs are skyrocketing. Last year, the Obama administration even admitted that premium hikes were coming for this year’s health care plans. It turns out the national average premium increase is an astounding 25 percent.
Out-of-pocket costs are out of control. Deductibles are climbing for families with exchange plans and for those with employer coverage.
Consumers have less choice than before. The Collingsworth family in Statesboro was informed they could no longer purchase health insurance from their current provider and they were left with only one option. As Mr. Collingsworth said, “This is not competitive in the sense that we have viable choices in an open marketplace.”
This is the case across the country. In 2017, patients in 1,022 counties in the United States had only one insurer from which to choose. This is up from 255 counties in 2016, an increase of more than 300 percent.
Patients across the country deserve better.
That is why we’re not just going to end the destructive mandates and penalties, we are going to replace Obamacare with a 21st century health care system that empowers patients. While applying a smooth and stable transition to ensure no one has the rug pulled out from under them, we have already started our replacement plan, which will be formed around “A Better Way.”
Our Better Way plan provides more choices and lower costs. Our plan includes reforms that give patients the freedom and flexibility to pick the plan that meets their needs, not what Washington thinks you need. This includes the ability to shop for plans across state lines to increase competition.
A Better Way includes commonsense protections for the Americans who need care the most. You should never have to worry about access to coverage regardless of your circumstances. Rest assured, we will work to protect patients with pre-existing conditions and coverage for young people.
Our plan will also support the accelerated discovery, development, and delivery of cutting-edge medical advances and lifesaving treatments. Finally, a Better Way offers a three-step approach to save and strengthen Medicare.
Our plan is in motion and we are on a rescue mission to resuscitate our health care system. We will fight to deliver a patient-centered health care system for the Joiners, the Collingsworths, Georgians, and the patients across the country that Obamacare has failed.
By U.S. Representatives Earl L. “Buddy” Carter (GA-01), Drew Ferguson (GA-03), Rob Woodall (GA-07), Doug Collins (GA-09), Jody Hice (GA-10), Barry Loudermilk (GA-11), Rick Allen (GA-12), and Tom Graves (GA-14).