Seven years ago, President Obama and fellow Democrats mounted a government takeover of health care. The results have been disastrous. Premiums and deductibles have skyrocketed. In the 9th Congressional District, constituents have exactly one option for health care coverage on the Obamacare exchange. Since 2013, you have asked me for relief, and on Thursday, my House Republican colleagues and I delivered.
The American Health Care Act protects those with preexisting conditions, lowers premiums, brings more competition to the individual health insurance market, makes the biggest reform to entitlement programs in history, and protects the unborn by defunding Planned Parenthood.
Unfortunately, we’ve seen Democrats resort to scare tactics and falsehoods to try and save the one-size-fits-all regulatory structure of Obamacare. But the reality is our plan offers states flexibility to protect those with pre-existing conditions in the manner that works best in that particular state. We can all agree the populations of Alaska and North Carolina have very different health care needs. So it makes sense to allow the decisions on how best to protect those with pre-existing conditions to be decided by officials closest to the population they serve, not Washington.
But I understand North Carolinians want to make sure those with pre-existing conditions are protected. Every bill I’ve supported to repeal and replace Obamacare has included protections for pre-existing conditions. So before voting on any health care legislation, I need to know the bill will give states the flexibility they need to serve their specific population while also providing states the resources necessary to ensure protection. The American Health Care Act checks both boxes.
Under the American Health Care Act, insurance companies are prohibited from denying anyone coverage due to a pre-existing condition. Furthermore, nobody will have their coverage taken away. The AHCA prohibits insurance companies from rescinding coverage based on any new diagnosis or health care need. Insurance companies are also prohibited from raising premiums for individuals with pre-existing conditions who maintain continuous coverage. This encourages responsible behavior and will stabilize the risk pool.
To support states in providing these protections, the American Health Care Act includes $100 billion for states and gives them wide latitude in how they use it, whether it be through direct premium support, assistance with out-of-pocket costs, or promoting access to preventive services. There is an additional $15 billion for an invisible risk sharing program, which states like Maine used before Obamacare to stabilize markets and lower premiums. The AHCA also sets aside $15 billion specifically for maternity, newborn, and mental health care services.
Finally, for individuals who A) are uninsured because they have not maintained continuous coverage, B) purchase health care insurance on the individual market, C) live in a state with a waiver from Obamacare’s community rating provision, and D) have a pre-existing condition, the American Health Care Act provides an additional $8 billion in support.
House Republicans believe in the reforms we are making, which is why prior to voting on the American Health Care Act, the House voted unanimously to approve a bill I co-sponsored ensuring members of Congress and staff receive their health insurance through the same structure provided for every other American under the AHCA.
Not only does passage of the American Health Care Act repair America’s health care system, it also builds momentum as we work toward other big ticket items like tax reform and regulatory reform. Altogether, our agenda will deliver relief from an overgrown and out-of-touch bureaucracy and allow hardworking American families to prosper.
Robert Pittenger, a Republican from Charlotte, represents the 9th District in the U.S. House, which includes all of Robeson County.