By Representative Joe Barton
A summer legislative slowdown on Capitol Hill is almost as predictable as Washington, D.C.'s heat and humidity.
But 2012 is going to be different because the activity in Congress will definitely be heating up.
The Supreme Court is expected to rule on the constitutionality of ObamaCare sometime this month; however, the justices' ruling won't change the fact that this law is unpopular, over reaching and unaffordable.
Quite frankly, the president's healthcare law is making things worse, limiting access to care, raising costs and making it harder for small businesses to hire workers.
Hopefully the court sees fit to throw out the entire law -- anything short of that means we need to repeal what is left of ObamaCare and enact commonsense, step-by-step reforms. Republicans are fighting to protect Americans' access to the care they need, from the doctor they choose, and at a lower cost.
We have ideas and proposals ready to reform healthcare -- the RIGHT way.
If you like what you have, keep it
The president made this promise before the law passed, but it has already been broken. Employers, big and small -- including AT&T, Caterpillar, Deere & Co. and Verizon -- are already discussing dropping coverage for workers. The reason: it is cheaper to pay the penalties spelled out in ObamaCare and dump people into the government exchange than it is to foot the bill for all the new mandates in the law. Republicans want to protect your right to keep your current insurance.
Patients need to know the price and quality of the care they're getting in order to make responsible healthcare decisions for themselves and their families. I support proposals that provide ways to collect and publically disclose the pricing and risk-adjusted quality data. It would also mean fewer common Kleenex tissues turning up on bills as pricy "mucus recovery systems."
We should ensure that seniors will be able to keep their current health insurance. ObamaCare cuts $500,000,000 from Medicare. This is unacceptable. The greatest generation deserves and should receive the greatest care available.
Ensure the sick get the healthcare they need
People with pre-existing conditions and chronic illnesses need to have access to affordable insurance. We can do this by requiring states to create, expand and strengthen high-risk pools, reinsurance and other risk-adjustment mechanisms; providing federal funding for such programs; and prohibiting insurance companies from canceling the coverage of Americans without cause.
We need commonsense liability protections to reduce healthcare costs.
No government-run plan
Our new healthcare reform bill should not include a government run plan.
Health insurance across state lines
Americans residing in a state with expensive health insurance plans are locked into those plans and do not currently have an opportunity to choose a lower-cost option that best meets their needs. We want to allow individuals to shop for healthcare coverage outside of the state in which they live.
Permanently prohibit taxpayer funding of abortion
No matter what the president says, ObamaCare allows for taxpayer-funded abortions. We will eliminate all doubt about how your money is being spent and also end subsidies for insurance coverage that includes abortion.
Expand Health Savings Accounts
Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) are popular savings accounts that provide cost-effective health insurance to those who might otherwise go uninsured. We will improve HSAs by making it easier for patients with high-deductible health plans to use them to obtain access to quality care. ObamaCare currently prevents the use of these savings accounts to purchase over-the-counter medicine -- we need to change that.
No matter how the court rules, I promise that Republicans will not repeat the Democrats' mistakes. We won't rush to pass a massive bill the American people don't support and members of Congress did not have time to read. It's pretty simple -- we want to make health insurance more affordable and allow families to be able to make their own choices in healthcare, visit the doctor of their choosing and receive the healthcare they and their doctor feel is best. Those decisions shouldn't be made by Washington.
Barton serves on the House Energy and Commerce Committee and is a former chairman of the committee.