Latest Obamacare Repeal Effort Full of Opportunity

As the past seven years have shown, no one in Congress is qualified to make healthcare decisions for Pennsylvanians. The latest version of the American Health Care Act will give consumers more control over their insurance and could lay the groundwork for fundamental welfare reform.

Waivers to essential health benefits, community rating, and guaranteed issue mandates will allow the individual market to offer a wider variety of plans, including plans with lower costs. Before the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), states like New Hampshire and Washington implemented guaranteed issue mandates only to repeal them after costs skyrocketed.

Lawmakers and the governor should take advantage of the proposed state-level waivers to repeal harmful Obamacare regulations that have driven up costs and limited consumer choices. Exchange premiums increased by an average of 33% this year, among the highest in the nation. Highmark customers saw a 55% increase. In addition, competition continues to decline, with just one insurer in Philadelphia and two in Pittsburgh.

Unfortunately, Governor Wolf is content with relegating more families to low-quality Medicaid and expensive exchange plans.

Apart from state mandate waivers, the AHCA includes landmark Medicaid reform. The broken entitlement program doesn’t improve health, and its rising costs are a significant driver of Pennsylvania’s state budget woes, not to mention national cost overruns. Nationwide, government spending on Medicaid expansion enrollees is nearly 50% higher than originally projected, and Medicaid enrollees obtain only 20 to 40 cents of value for each dollar the government spends.

Transitioning from open-ended matching payments to per-capita allotments will force Pennsylvania to focus on quality of care instead of quantity of care. The state can also apply for a block grant for healthy populations to cut the red tape and apply reforms, like individual Health Savings Accounts, choice counseling, and sliding scale payments that help patients gradually afford private coverage.

Giving states more flexibility to regulate and design a health care system that works for all Pennsylvanians is critical for any successful Obamacare repeal effort.