With the nation’s largest health insurance company, UnitedHealth Group, planning to exit most Obamacare exchange markets due to weak enrollment and high medical costs -- and more HealthCare.gov marketplace insurers expected to do the same -- U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho (R-FL) believes a better way exists.
“Let’s go back to 2009, pre-Obamacare,” the congressman recently told Patient Daily News.
Officially called the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Obamacare falls far short of what the White House originally promised four years ago, Yoho said, pointing to marketplace insurers that are losing money as increased numbers of sicker and older patients sign up for coverage. At the same time, insurance premiums are expected to skyrocket in 2017.
“It has been a disaster,” he said.
Yoho has offered an alternative plan with several stages that would be designed to correct the wrongs associated with the ACA.
First, he said, the majority of Americans would have health insurance on their own or through their employers like they did in 2009. At that time, Yoho said, roughly 15 percent of Americans had no health insurance.
“What government should have done is incentivize the 85 percent group to continue to be responsible for their own health care and incentivize businesses to offer more health care,” he said.
Then, he added, the government should have sweetened those incentives by increasing the amount of health savings and opening up insurance borders to give states the option to market across state lines better than they do now.
Next, he said, the nation needs to adopt common sense regulations.
“As a result, you’ll see people from the 15 percent group migrate to the 85 percent group, and then you’re going to have 85 to 90 percent of Americans with insurance coverage,” Yoho said. “And then we’ll do what we have to do for the 10 percent of people who don’t have health insurance.”
This is where the federal government plays a role through Medicare and Medicaid, which would offset the costs for the 10 percent of people without insurance.
“We’re going to have to negotiate with the health insurance companies and the drug companies for people with pre-existing conditions,” Yoho said. “That’s going to have to be a must in this plan. I’m not gong to interfere with private enterprise, but there has to be people coming together at the table. When you work with insurance companies, hospitals and drug companies, you can find a solution … and keep government the hell out of it.”
Both last year and earlier this year, Yoho voted in favor of the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act, H.R. 3762, which would have repealed most of Obamacare and placed a moratorium on federal Medicaid funding for Planned Parenthood, among other changes. Though the bill passed the House and Senate, the president vetoed it in January.
A vocal advocate for replacing Obamacare, Yoho has acknowledged that many Americans have received health care coverage under Obamacare. But he said the law’s one-size-fits-all approach to changing the nation’s health care system has been a disaster, in addition to being unsustainable.
“If you look at the monstrosity now, with this increase in premiums that the insurance companies have announced -- now this is the third year in a row -- it’s staggering when you also look at the amount of deductibles that people can’t afford,” Yoho said. “Don’t give up on hope. The Republicans do have a plan, and it will be cheaper and it will be better than what we have now. And it will be sustainable.”