Dennis Ross

Dennis Ross for Congress

Column: An alternative to Obamacare

Feb
18
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Column: An alternative to Obamacare
By Dennis Ross

Earlier this month, I joined a majority of my colleagues in the House of Representatives in passing legislation that would repeal Obamacare, while also offering an important opportunity to replace it.

Since being elected to Congress, I have never supported Obamacare. This is a piece of legislation that was sold to the American people through a number of broken promises. Over time, these promises were debunked. Most recently, a top Obamacare consultant, MIT professor Jonathan Gruber, was exposed for explaining why deceit and, in his own words, the "stupidity of American voters" was needed to enact this law.

We all remember when the president promised, "If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor." However, today, families are losing access to doctors they have seen for years due to Obamacare. At the same time, physicians are being overextended, and in time, will likely begin reducing patient access to services.

According to a recent study published by the Physicians Foundation, 81 percent of physicians are overextended or at full capacity. Furthermore, nearly half of the physicians surveyed plan to start reducing patient access to services. This will reduce the quality of care received by patients across Florida and the country.

When the president said, "If you like your plan, you can keep your plan," hundreds of thousands of Floridians received insurance cancellation notices because of Obamacare and 38 percent of Floridians ranging from ages 18-34 are still uninsured. PolitiFact.com dubbed this statement as the "2013 Lie of the Year."

The president also promised his signature legislative accomplishment would lower health care premiums by an average of $2,500 per family. Unfortunately, in Florida we have seen health care rates continue to rise. In 2015, Florida families will see on average a 13 percent increase in insurance premiums. Across our community in Polk and Hillsborough counties, families will have to budget even more to afford the estimated 14.9 percent and 19.2 percent increases in premium costs.

Although I recently voted to once again repeal Obamacare, this vote also instructed three committees in the House of Representatives to offer a substantive replacement. Congress cannot continue to repeal this law without also offering a viable alternative.

It is our duty to offer a replacement that works for every American that is patient-focused, and that protects the doctor-patient relationship. This alternative must focus on improving our health care system with tort reform, the expansion of health savings accounts and by giving Americans the option to purchase health care plans across state lines.

The Republican Party has balked at offering an alternative for far too long. It is time to take this important policy debate head-on.

During the 113th Congress, I authored legislation entitled the PATIENT Health Act. This bill would create a consumer and choice-driven health market; it would expand health savings accounts and would have transitional coverage for those with pre-existing conditions. The PATIENT Act would have increased affordability without risking quality health coverage, while putting the people, not the government, in charge of their health care.

People should have more say over what benefits are included in their health insurance plan. They should not be forced to purchase unnecessary coverage, which is one of the many reasons why the cost of health insurance is so high today under Obamacare.

If my Republican colleagues fail to offer a substantive alternative in the coming months, you can be sure I will once again step forward to offer my plan.

Our health is of the utmost importance to our quality of life, and all Americans deserve access to high quality and affordable health insurance. More government mandates and regulations are not the answer to increasing health care access or reducing costs. I look forward to working with my colleagues on a plan that is patient-driven and actually works for Floridians and all Americans.

U.S. Rep. Dennis Ross of Lakeland is a Republican whose district includes parts of Hillsborough County.