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Waco Tribune: House health-care package offers relief from failed Obamacare

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WACO, May 14, 2017 | comments

By Rep. Bill Flores

The Affordable Care Act — Obamacare — was based on a one-size-fits-all approach that put bureaucrats in Washington in charge of your health care. This month I, along with a majority of my House colleagues, took a vitally important first step in repealing and replacing this disastrous law. The House passed the American Health Care Act to begin the process to provide America with a 21st century health-care system that lowers costs, encourages competition and, most importantly, empowers patients to take control of their health-care decisions.

Across our nation, Obamacare’s failures continue to impede access to, and the affordability of, health care for all Americans. Recently, another Virginia insurer announced it will be leaving the Obamacare exchanges next year. A Maryland insurer just publicized a 58 percent rate increase in 2018 to compensate for instability within the marketplace. The only remaining insurer in 94 of 99 Iowa counties declared that it is planning to leave the marketplace altogether. And Aetna just announced its complete exit from all Obamacare exchange markets.

Unfortunately, similar examples across the country continue to mount. Here in Texas, 70 percent of counties have only one health-care option. Many will lose that option as early as January 2018 due to the fatal flaws in Obamacare. By repealing and replacing Obamacare we can end the harm that American families and businesses are suffering.

The AHCA delivers immediate relief from Obamacare’s taxes and mandates that have stifled job creation, increased premiums and limited options for patients and providers. The AHCA replaces damaging outcomes with provisions that return control of health care to the states while restoring the free market so Americans can access quality, affordable health-care options.

Under the AHCA, if you choose to purchase health insurance through the individual insurance market, you will receive a monthly age-based tax credit to purchase quality coverage of your choice. If you are currently utilizing employer-based health-care coverage, coverage through Medicare or the military or are enrolled in traditional Medicaid, you will not be directly impacted by the AHCA.

You will, however, see the benefits of a robust free market with increased choices and lower costs. The AHCA does this by establishing a $138 billion Patient and State Stability Fund available for states to facilitate diverse coverage at a lower cost while providing greater health-care options for all Americans, including those with pre-existing conditions.

Make no mistake; we are committed to caring for those who are most vulnerable within our communities. The AHCA protects individuals with pre-existing conditions by prohibiting insurance companies from denying or rescinding coverage or raising premiums, assuming they maintain continuous coverage.

Under Obamacare, Medicaid expanded to include able-bodied adults and the program has become so fiscally unstable that it cannot serve those it was originally designed to serve as a safety net — the poor, disabled, elderly, pregnant mothers and their children. The AHCA modernizes and strengthens Medicaid by enacting the largest entitlement reform in the program’s history. By reforming Medicaid financing we are empowering states to meet the unique needs of their citizens.

That said, under the AHCA Medicaid-expansion recipients will be grandfathered in their current coverage, subject to continuing eligibility. We have designed the AHCA, however, so that this population will have improved opportunities to receive health insurance through an employer, qualify for tax credits to purchase insurance on the individual market or receive health coverage through innovative state programs funded by the AHCA’s Patient and State Stability Fund.

Like many constituents throughout Congressional District 17, I am forced to receive my family’s coverage through an Obamacare exchange. We have had the same frustrating experiences of many other hardworking Texas families, including premium increases, exploding out-of-pocket costs and fewer options. I continue to believe that Congress live under the laws it passes. So, along with the AHCA vote, the House also unanimously passed legislation to ensure that all members of Congress have the same coverage afforded to Main Street America under the AHCA.

Since my first day in office, one of my top priorities has been not only to repeal Obamacare but to replace it with free-market principles that improve competition and increase choices for each and every American. Passage of the American Health Care Act, coupled with administrative actions by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price and additional legislation to improve the delivery and cost of health care will create a 21st century health-care system that is patient-focused, market-driven, competitive and affordable for all families. I strongly urge my Senate colleagues to work diligently with the House of Representatives to fulfill these goals.

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This week, the House passed several bills to help our veterans and put the VA on a path to permanent success. With Memorial Day approaching, it is fitting that the House works to honor the commitments made to our military men and women.

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This week, the House passed several bills to help our veterans and put the VA on a path to permanent success https://t.co/ribCsoSxn3

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