Opinion

Kansans in Congress: A fix for our broken health care system needs time to work

Obamacare has failed. It’s failed because it was built on the faulty premise that government can mandate, regulate and tax us to cheaper health care.

Obamacare premiums are skyrocketing, with Kansans expecting 42 percent increases in 2017. Even worse, deductibles are growing nearly seven times as fast as wages, rendering many plans useless because of exorbitant out-of-pocket costs. With deductibles in the lowest-priced Obamacare plans averaging $6,000, many Americans can’t afford to use their insurance at all.

Providers are exiting the marketplaces, leaving only one insurer to choose from in more than 1,000 counties across the country. Soon, many people could be left with no options at all. More than 25 million Americans have no health insurance coverage even though the law mandates it.

With Obamacare imploding before our very eyes, keeping a plan built on a faulty premise and faulty promises is simply not an option. And the longer we wait to replace it, the worse it will get.

There are only two directions to go from here.

One way is to move toward more government control with a European-style, single-payer system. Yet this path leads us to a system fraught with rationing, lower-quality care, rising costs and stifled innovation. For example, in Canada, the average patient has to wait five months between getting a doctor’s referral to receiving treatment from a specialist. Longer wait times have cost tens of thousands of Canadians their lives.

The “Better Way” is building the best health care system in the world — a patient-centered system with more choices and competition for coverage at a lower cost. A system that protects those with pre-existing conditions and ensures the most vulnerable among us will have financial assistance in purchasing coverage of their choice but doesn’t eliminate inexpensive coverage for everyone else. A system that allows young and healthy individuals to purchase affordable plans instead of the government mandating they buy expensive coverage they don’t need.

Our blueprint for a “Better Way” to fix America’s health care system will not involve a comprehensive, overly complex and confusing 3,000-page bill in the mold of Nancy Pelosi’s notorious “we have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.”

Instead, it will involve a step-by-step approach that may take time but will be done correctly to achieve our goals of empowering patients and doctors, not federal bureaucrats. It will work to lower costs by increasing choice and competition, not heavy-handed government mandates. It will seek to provide what Kansans need — accessibility, affordability and quality — all of which have failed under Obamacare.

It will cover those with pre-existing conditions by empowering state high risk pools, which in turn will lower the cost of care for the young and healthy. It will make care affordable by helping Kansans save more for their health care needs. It will make care accessible for all by reforming the tax code to ensure more Kansans can purchase coverage.

We readily admit solutions shouldn’t be limited to Republican ones. Our blueprint retains the principle that young people can remain on their parents’ plan until the age of 26. We are open to other ideas that would achieve these goals — because no political party has cornered the market on good ideas.

The Kansas House delegation stands ready to get to work on smart, effective solutions for our health care system.

Jenkins, Marshall and Yoder are U.S. representatives from Kansas.

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