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The Wichita Eagle - Repeal, replace health care law

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By Rep. Mike Pompeo

The U.S. Supreme Court did no one any favors last week.

Our health care system desperately needs improvement and reform, but Obamacare is only adding to its problems. Rather than bring down the spiraling cost of health care, it has dramatically increased insurance costs for millions of Americans -- raising the average cost of a family policy by $1,200. Obamacare also places huge and burdensome mandates on employers, raising the cost of new employees significantly, effectively stopping employers from hiring, and dragging down the rest of our economy.

Under Obamacare, millions of patients will lose their current coverage, lose the doctor they like, and be dumped into government care. Rather than prevent Medicare's bankruptcy, Obamacare took $500 billion from it to help pay for the legislation. After Obamacare passed, Medicare's insolvency date actually crept forward to 2024 -- a mere 12 years away.

Obamacare is not and never was the solution the president made it out to be. Had the court dismantled Obamacare, it would have paved the way for reform of our health care delivery system that will actually work.

Because it did not, the hard work of repeal remains ahead -- and now depends entirely on a change in the political landscape.

The president has led us on an expensive, four-year detour that will not solve the main problems: skyrocketing health care costs and uninsured citizens.

The good news is that viable solutions to cost and coverage problems do exist.

First, Congress needs to clear away Obamacare and start fresh. Then we should reform Medicaid, allowing states to develop innovative ideas to drive down costs. We can save Medicare by transitioning to a new model where consumers receive both the necessary information and the incentive to control costs.

By expanding health savings accounts, we can put the consumer in the driver's seat of health decisions. We can allow health insurance policies to be purchased across state lines, which will expand competition, increase economies of scale in health care, and drive down health care costs for everyone.

We should enact comprehensive medical-malpractice reform to drive down costs and help stem the unaffordable practice of defensive medicine. Perhaps most significantly, we need to put employer-provided health insurance on an equal tax footing with policies obtained directly by consumers.

Moves like these will provide patient-centered care, create alternatives to fee-for-service medicine, reduce the role of third-party payments, and lead to better value for America's health care spending.

By upholding Obamacare, the court has thrown the problem back in Congress' lap to resolve. If the Republican House is joined by a Republican Senate and President Mitt Romney next year, I'm confident that we will repeal Obamacare and replace it with reforms that will drive down health care costs and allow us to create the greatest health care system in the world.

The possibility for real reform still exists, but now we are going to have to get it done the hard way.

Mike Pompeo is a Republican member of Congress from Wichita.

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