While I could appreciate Minnesota DFL Chairman Ken Martin’s desire to deflect attention away from the Ukrainian witch hunt, as well as Sen. Tina Smith’s aggressive posturing in favor of impeachment, let me correct the chairman’s record on health care, as he expressed it in his Sept. 26 commentary in the News Tribune, “Two years later, Trump’s tax bill benefits mostly the rich.”
It’s almost too rich listening to Democrats like Martin and Smith lecture anyone on the issue. Especially since they are poised to enact a devastating assault on seniors called “Medicare for all” — and in the process deny private health care to everyone else.
A report recently released from the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services showed that unsubsidized enrollment on the exchanges is crashing, having dropped 40% nationally in the last two years. And why not? For six years running, Obamacare’s onerous rules resulted in massive hikes in premiums that many of us warned about.
The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services report in August clearly showed how many individuals have been priced out of the market due to skyrocketing premiums, which more than doubled since the advent of Obamacare’s costly mandates. The average total monthly enrollment in Minnesota has gone from 237,583 in 2014 to under 149,000 in 2018, according to the report.
While the Congressional Budget Office predicted more than 25 million enrollees on the Affordable Care Act exchanges by now, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services reported that just 10.6 million consumers purchased their coverage there in 2019.
This raises a question: Just how would 23 million people have lost their coverage under Republican health care reform proposals, as so many apologists in the media contended would have happened?
Interestingly, and contrary to Martin’s assertion, the Congressional Budget Office concluded that premiums would have declined with our Republican reform proposal.
The good news is that for the first time since the exchanges under the Affordable Care Act began, individual health care premiums are remaining relatively flat. But that’s only because the administration of President Donald Trump isn’t waiting for Democrats to implement their scheme to end employer-sponsored insurance. A new Health and Human Services rule allowing employees covered by Health Reimbursement Accounts to pay for individual premiums with pre-tax dollars is the right way to end “job lock.”
So would an expansion of Health Savings Accounts.
Just as important, the administration is pushing for lower-priced, short-term plans, which would be a boon for the young and healthy, allowing them to finally purchase affordable health care geared to their needs. This follows a new rule enabling small business and the self-employed to compete with larger groups by forming their own pools with association health plans.
Moreover, for all the justified concern over rising pharmaceutical prices, much of the out-of-pocket increase is manifestly due to shrinking drug formularies and sky-high deductibles under Obamacare. In other words, a lack of coverage.
That’s why the Trump administration’s initiative to have insurers cover medicines like insulin as preventative care is especially worthwhile.
There still remains work to be done.
Which brings us to the great health care debate of 2020. Rather than eliminate Obamacare’s price controls and adopt the approach utilized for decades under Kennedy-Kassebaum (HIPAA) in the 160 million employer-based market, Democrats seek to actually abolish private health plans.
Rather than encourage continuous coverage through lower prices, Democrats still seek to fine people for not buying overly expensive insurance they can't afford. They seek to throw everyone into a $32 trillion socialized medicine scheme that would end Medicare as we know it.
America can’t afford these radical liberal proposals being pushed by Sen. Tina Smith and the Democratic Party — and neither can providers. And neither can patients.
Jason Lewis served in the 115th Congress from Minnesota’s 2nd district and is a Republican candidate for the US Senate in 2020. He wrote this for the News Tribune.