Opinion Pieces

Longview Daily News Guest Column: Guest Column: 'Obamacare' isn't the cure

Residents of Southwest Washington deserve low-cost, accessible, quality health care. Unfortunately, the "Obamacare" health care bill that became law last year didn't bring us closer to such a goal. This year we have a chance to start over with reform that actually lowers costs and improves the quality of health care for all Americans.

Both parties are to blame for our broken health care system. When Republicans were in the majority, they failed to put forth their own solutions. Democrats deserve credit for rightly focusing on this issue, only their "reform" did things like add costly regulations on small businesses, tack $2.6 trillion dollars on to the national debt, slash Medicare, and, for the first time ever, require citizens to either purchase a product from a private company or pay a fine — but did not fix the system's root problems.

On Wednesday the House of Representatives will vote on whether to repeal the Obamacare legislation that was opposed by a majority of the people in this country. I will vote in favor the repeal, but acknowledge that it is only a first step toward fixing America's broken health care system. We must replace this bill with a patient-centered approach to health care.

If we vote in favor of the bill Wednesday but fail to take any further action on health care, then Congress has missed the mark. To really fix health care, we must get serious about implementing a plan that doesn't grow government but does get at the root causes of rising health care costs in this country. Here are some patient-centered solutions I will promote:

• Small Business Health Plans: Big corporations and labor unions are able to pool together to offer employees lower health care rates. Small businesses should have the same opportunities.

• Medical lawsuit reform: We should cap the amount awarded for frivolous medical lawsuits. When excessive monetary awards are given in such lawsuits, we all pay higher prices.

• Expanded Health Savings Accounts: HSA's are tax-free tools that allow you and your family more control over your health care decisions.
• Allow the purchase of insurance across state lines: This would allow you to choose a health care plan offered in any state, not just the few we have in Washington. You could pick a plan that best meets your needs, and your pocketbook.

Even if (repeal) doesn't pass on Wednesday, my colleagues and I will find opportunities to restart health care reform in this country. We will seek to replace, piece-by-piece, the most destructive portions of the current law. For example, last week I cosponsored legislation to eliminate the IRS Form 1099 mandate that adds burdensome regulations and paperwork to America's small businesses.

The American people demonstrated their dissatisfaction with the current health care reform and the direction of Congress on the ballot in November. People in Southwest Washington tell me over and over that there's too much spending and not enough problem solving going on in Washington, DC. As they struggle with underemployment or unemployment they simply want access to quality, affordable care. It's time we get to work on solutions that will truly contain rising health care costs and increase access to care.

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