Last week I told you about Rob Lockard’s story, just one of the far too many examples of Americans suffering because of the failures of our insurance market. These failures are disturbingly common in the healthcare market as well. Today I want to focus on our fight to reform Obamacare. Obamacare promised a future where every sick American could get the care that they need. Unfortunately, we have continued to move away from that goal over the last year. I believe in a future where every person in Ohio, and the United States, has reasonable insurance options. This future includes the option of choosing from successful Medicare plans (a viable public option) or plans provided by private insurers. Most importantly, my plan protects the great American tradition of freedom and opportunity. As your representative, I will be dedicated to ensuring that Americans have good healthcare options to choose from at reasonable prices, so that sick Ohioans cannot have their lives ruined by something out of their control.
The Situation in Ohio
In Ohio this year, 42 of the 88 counties in the state will have only one insurer, while an additional 20 counties will see their choices limited to two insurers. This trend is unacceptable. Declining healthcare options are contributing to an already problematic rise in insurance costs which forces Americans to pay more each year. In Ohio costs are expected to continue to rise by more than 10 times the rate of inflation this year. This is happening as the president continues to undermine efforts to reform the healthcare system. Undermining our healthcare market by sabotaging Obamacare hurts every American, but it especially hurts middle class Ohioans who obtain insurance through their employers. These hardworking Ohioans are increasingly being presented with rising costs and very few choices.
To be clear, the Affordable Care Act is not responsible for the soaring price of Healthcare. Rates have actually increased less quickly in the last 5 years than they had in the 5 years before the ACA was passed. There needs to be a continued push to reform the healthcare market in the United States to slow down these increases even more. Congress has failed to replace Obamacare, so it's time to pass bipartisan legislation to make the law work.
On top of consistent increases in the cost of insurance, American’s face an onslaught of price increases from pharmaceutical companies. This increase in the cost of medicine is a driving factor for increases in the cost of insurance. When Pharmaceutical companies charge insurers more for drugs, insurers charge more to consumers. This has come in many forms, but the bottom line is consumers are paying more for the medicine that they need. Prescriptions for things like epipens that have saved countless lives have increased rapidly and this is unacceptable. By increasing access to pharmaceuticals through more market competition and by opening up access to medicare there will be pressure on pharmaceutical companies to lower the prices on lifesaving medication. There also must be reforms against changes in tax policy that eliminates tax deductions for medical expenses which will devastate low and middle income Americans who are already struggling to deal with serious healthcare challenges.
One of the most promising reforms for Obamacare is an option that includes a Medicare buy-in. Increasing access to this popular program will be a huge step towards universal coverage. This would mean more people could take advantage of a successful government plan that decreases both healthcare and administrative costs for its users. On top of that, more than half of Americans on Medicare report receiving excellent care. This is significantly more than the 33% of Americans who report getting excellent care from their private insurers. Americans who pay into Medicare should be able to take advantage of the program’s benefits. This just makes sense. Why hide a plan that works?