Congressional trio offer ‘Off-Ramp From Obamacare’

The Wall Street Journal published an op-ed on Tuesday by U.S. Reps. John Kline (R-MN), chairman of the Education and Workforce Committee; Paul Ryan (R-WI), chairman of the Ways and Means Committee; and Fred Upton (R-MI), chairman of the Energy and Commerce Committee, titled “An Off-Ramp From Obamacare.”

In the opinion piece, the trio describe the challenges Americans are facing from the Affordable Care Act.

Americans should have an off-ramp from Obamacare — a legislative alternative that leads them away from an expensive health-care wreck and toward a patient-centered system,” the legislators said. “Obamacare made health insurance even more costly by requiring plans to include Washington-determined benefits and levels of coverage. The only way to get people to buy these plans was to mandate them, and the only way people could afford these plans was through hundreds of billions of dollars of government subsidies.”

They explained that the law — as written — offers subsidies only to people who purchase plans “through an exchange established by the state.” In other words, anyone who bought a plan through the federal exchange, as more than 5 million people did last year, is not eligible for the subsidy.

“Not one to worry over the large print, the Internal Revenue Service handed out subsidies to people on both the federal and state exchanges,” the article said. “This blatant disregard for the law has put millions on the hook — because if you received a subsidy and lose it because of the administration’s illegal actions, you’ll face big insurance bills you can’t afford.”

Kline, Ryan and Upton said the Supreme Court could tell the IRS to enforce the law as written. If that happens, many people could lose their subsidies — and possibly their coverage. The congressmen reach out to those individuals specifically in the op-ed.

“What we will propose is an off-ramp out of Obamacare toward patient-centered health care,” the congressmen said. “It has two parts: First, make insurance more affordable by ending Washington mandates and giving choice back to states, individuals and families. And second, support Americans in purchasing the coverage of their choosing.”

In the piece, the chairmen lay out a plan to move Americans back to patient-centered health care. First, by making coverage more affordable by allowing states to opt out of Obamacare’s insurance mandates. Second, by helping people buy coverage. Third, by setting up safeguards for patients by allowing parents to keep children on their plan longer and prohibiting insurers from imposing lifetime limits on benefits.

“We would also force insurers to compete for your business, rather than force Americans to buy a government-approved health plan under the threat of IRS fines,” the trio said. “Let people buy insurance across state lines. Stop frivolous lawsuits by enacting medical-liability reform. Let small businesses band together so they get a fair deal from insurance companies. Our committees and nonpartisan analysts alike estimate that these proposals will cut costs and raise quality across the board.

“So here’s the bottom line: Under Obamacare, government controls your choices,” the congressmen said. “Under our proposal, you will. You’ll get to pick a plan that works for you. We look forward to building upon these ideas and working with our colleagues in the House and Senate, health care experts and, most important, the American people, to put high-quality, affordable coverage within closer reach for all. And we’ll do it by putting Americans, not Washington, in the driver’s seat.”