Column: Why I opposed the American Health Care Act
Last week, the debate over the American Health Care Act dominated the news cycle. There was and remains a lot of misinformation surrounding this legislation, the worst being its claim to “repeal and replace Obamacare,” and I want to take a moment to cut through the noise and give you this doctor’s perspective.
Before getting to the substance of this bill, it’s important to mention the flawed process used to try and pass this legislation. Republicans rightly condemned Nancy Pelosi when she infamously declared that “we have to pass Obamacare to find out what’s in the bill.” It wasn’t OIK when Democrats did it, and it shouldn’t be OK for Republicans either. For a law that impacts nearly 20 percent of the American economy, Congress typically would hold hearings and listen to experts who have reviewed the text of the bill. Yet, there were almost no public hearings for the American Health Care Act. To make matters worse, I was told, along with the rest of Congress, that this bill was the best we were going to get and we could “take it or leave it.” Arizonans didn’t send me to Congress to “take it or leave it.” I was sent to end the status quo and fulfill the promises made to fix our broken health care system.
Obamacare remains an unmitigated disaster, with no other domestic policy failing with such spectacular ineptitude. When it was first enacted unilaterally by the Democrats in 2009, millions of Americans across the country lost their doctors, lost their insurance plans and paid dramatically more for premiums and deductibles. Every key promise of Obamacare turned out to be a lie. Obamacare’s chief architect, Jonathan Gruber, admitted that “lack of transparency” and the “stupidity of the American voter” helped Congress approve the bill.
Sadly, no state has suffered more under Obamacare than Arizona. We are being battered on two fronts: skyrocketing premiums and fewer insurance choices. In some cases, Arizonans are seeing an increase in premiums of 116 percent and only one insurance company remains in several counties. To many, it is very simple: Obamacare must be repealed, not modified. Government-mandated health care has proven to be just as big of a failure as government-run health care at the VA. Historic Republican wins in the 2010, 2014 and 2016 elections have given Republicans a clear mandate to throw this bad law out. Virtually every elected Republican promised to repeal this disaster.
Unfortunately, the American Health Care Act failed to accomplish this goal. This bill still left in place too many of the big-government Obamacare mandates and regulations that are responsible for the rising cost of premiums and limited competition. No progress can be made without addressing those issues from the ground up. Additionally, the bill created new entitlements at a time when we are already $20 trillion in debt while requiring insurance providers to charge a 30 percent penalty to any individual who had a lapse in coverage — eerily similar to the individual mandate.
In short, the American Health Care Act modified Obamacare; it did not eliminate it. Rather than accepting the narrative that this bill was “the best we were going to get,” I joined my colleagues in the House Freedom Caucus and banded together to call a
TIMEOUT on the American Health Care Act. Arizona families deserve better than this legislation, and I will not break my promise that I made to deliver a full repeal of Obamacare. Now is the time to start from square one in building collaborative health care solutions that focus on putting patient choice first, allowing free market competition and fixing the inefficiencies in our current system.
Just because the American Health Care Act failed to pass the House last week doesn’t mean it’s the end of our Obamacare repeal effort — far from it. The days of rubber-stamping bad legislation are over. We are committed to putting people over politics and getting this bill done right in an open and transparent process.
Rep. Paul Gosar represents Arizona’s 4th Congressional District and is a member of the House Freedom Caucus.