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Congressman Tom Emmer

Representing the 6th District of Minnesota

The Hill: ObamaCare can be replaced

February 6, 2015

By Rep. Tom Emmer

Government must be a resource, not a roadblock, on the road to accessible health care and medical advancement.

Since the rollout of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, more than a year ago, the American people have faced an unending wave of challenges and disappointments. From lengthy and glitch-prone signups to shady contractors and privacy concerns, the public has every right to be outraged. And they are.

According to a Gallup poll taken shortly after the November election, 56 percent were opposed to the current law.

When I asked constituents how Obamacare impacts them, their families, or their businesses, I heard complaints of premium increases, underemployment, and a state exchange that isn’t offering much relief.

Ryan now has to pay out of pocket for an injury that his insurance would have covered prior to Obamacare.

Troy wrote that his family’s premiums went up, and coverage went down, drastically affecting the cost of his son’s hearing aid.

Brian wrote that his wife’s mental health clinic has steadily lost clients due to regulations.

And Richard lost his employer-sponsored health coverage. He, his wife and their two sons are without insurance because MNsure would cost them more than what they were paying before.

These are only a handful of the stories sent to my office, and they’re repeated in every district across the country. While they may be packaged in a neat box full of promises, government-centered health care models are fundamentally unworkable and unfair.

The House has already taken important steps in limiting the most egregious portions of Obamacare.

During the first week of the 114th Congress, we passed the Hire More Heroes Act, which incentivizes business owners to hire veterans by exempting those who already receive health care through TRICARE or the VA by exempting them from the Obamacare 50-plus employee mandate.

I cosponsored a bill with great bipartisan support that would remove the medical device tax, a 2.3 percent excise tax that only punishes those pursuing life-saving medical innovation.

We also passed the Save American Workers Act, which redefines full-time employment as 40 hours instead of 30, to reduce the number of businesses negatively impacted by the employer mandate and to combat the growing underemployment issue caused by Obamacare.

And this week we fulfilled our promise to those who elected us by voting to repeal Obamacare.

But if our aim is to increase heath care options while also decreasing costs, it is not enough for Congress to simply be against Obamacare—we need to offer alternatives and real solutions.

Luckily, there are options for how we combat the exorbitant costs and challenges facing our healthcare system.

We can allow insurance to be purchased across state lines, breaking up insurance and regulatory monopolies.

We can allow portability of health insurance, allowing people to keep the same insurance when they change jobs.

We can remove students from mandatory rolls at their universities if they already have insurance through their parents.

We can use high risk pools to help those with preexisting conditions.

We can help people manage their healthcare spending by improving and increasing incentives to encourage the use of Health Savings Accounts.

We can address lawsuit abuse by protecting healthcare providers from outlandish, expensive, and often unnecessary claims that drive up costs for everyone.

We can reduce fraud in government programs to ensure that they actually serve people in need. 

These are real solutions that will get us on the path towards truly affordable and accessible care. Moving real healthcare solutions will require leadership by the new majorities and courage from Republicans and Democrats alike to do the right thing for our country.

I am committed to working with my colleagues to get it done.

It’s time to stop playing party politics with the public’s health.

Emmer has represented Minnesota’s 6th Congressional District since 2015. He sits on the Agriculture and Foreign Affairs committees.

This column originally appeared on The Hill blog on February 6, 2015. Click here to view the original.