The American people know that when a tree is rotten at the center, you cut it down and plant something new in its place.
Congress began that process last week when the House cast two critical, bipartisan healthcare votes. In one vote, we cut down a rotten tree, voting to repeal the law. Then we cast a second vote to replace it, planting the seeds to grow solutions that ensure all Americans have access to quality, affordable healthcare—regardless of their health condition.
Repealing and replacing the healthcare law is about protecting Americans' health security, making care and coverage more affordable, and taking action so that people don't lose the coverage they have. Everybody agrees that healthcare costs are too high. Everybody also agrees that we need to protect those who are sick and need coverage the most. But when it comes to solutions, the paths diverge. [See a slide show of 10 ways Republicans can take down Obamacare.]
The problem with the Democrats' law is that it puts government—not doctors and patients—at the center of healthcare decisions. Instead of families deciding what coverage is best for them, unelected government officials do so. Instead of families and employers deciding how much they can afford, the IRS makes that decision. And, instead of families and employers deciding if they need health insurance, the government mandates that they buy it even if they can't afford it. [Read Peter Roff: Federal Judge Declares Obamacare Unconstitutional.]
At its core, this law is all about the government. It is financed through new taxes, fees, and mandates—many of which will hit middle-class families and the small businesses that we're depending on to help move our anemic economy forward. It drives state budgets to the brink by pushing 15 million additional people onto Medicaid at a time when states can't afford their current programs. Worst of all, it increases, rather than decreases, insurance costs for millions of Americans.
Entitlement expansion is not healthcare reform; and letting the IRS hire up to 16,500 new auditors, agents, and other employees to implement and enforce this law is not the same as empowering doctors and patients. [See photos of the healthcare debate.]
Repealing the healthcare law is the first step, but not the last. Reform is critical to increasing affordability and coverage. Some ideas have already been proposed. One, which I offered as an alternative to the current law, lowers premiums for millions of families by $3,200 compared to the increases expected under the new law. That approach would also help curtail the junk lawsuits that drive up medical costs, give people more choices by allowing them to shop for insurance across state lines, and provide states the flexibility to make changes that best meet the needs of their residents and small businesses. And, importantly, the proposal also includes vital protections providing people with pre-existing conditions access to affordable coverage, prohibiting insurers from unjustly canceling policies, and allowing dependents to remain on their parents' policies. [See editorial cartoons about the healthcare law.]
There will be other ideas, too. But they won't be developed behind closed doors by Washington politicians who think they know what's best for you and your family. The solutions we intend to bring forward will be developed with the American people, with small business owners, and with large employers. That is the way laws are supposed to be written—with the direct input of those who will be affected.
We can reform healthcare, provide better patient protections, and lower costs. It doesn't take $1 trillion in new government spending, $500 billion in new taxes, and $500 billion in cuts to Medicare. It takes some common-sense reforms. Working together, we can deliver that kind of reform to our families, businesses, and seniors.