October marks the two year anniversary of Obamacare’s implementation, and most Americans suffering the damaging consequences of this deeply flawed law know it has been two years too long. From rising premiums and dropped coverage to the abrupt collapse of CoOportunity Health, Obamacare continues to hurt Nebraskans, expand the size of government, and skyrocket the national debt.
Obamacare’s Consumer Operated and Oriented Plans, or CO-OPs, exemplify the mounting failures of the President’s health care law. CoOportunity Health, the CO-OP serving Nebraska and Iowa, went bankrupt earlier this year and was liquidated by the state of Iowa after only one year of offering health coverage. In July, Louisiana Health Cooperative announced it would be closing. In August, Nevada Health CO-OP announced to its 14,000 subscribers that it too would close by the end of 2015. Just last week, New York state told Health Republic Insurance of New York to stop writing new policies and to shut down operations.
These four CO-OPs received approximately $146 million, $66 million, $65.9 million, and $265 million, respectively, in taxpayer funds. It is highly unlikely those loans will ever be fully repaid; instead, taxpayers will be forced to pay for the losses of these failed programs. Numerous organizations, including the Galen Institute and the Council for Affordable Health Coverage, have asked Congress to investigate the egregious misuse of funds.
This week, I joined Ways and Means Health Subcommittee Chairman Kevin Brady and Ways and Means Oversight Subcommittee Chairman Peter Roskam in sending a letter to the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services seeking more information on the financial solvency of CO-OPs. The American people have already shouldered far too many of Obamacare’s burdens, and I will not stop pursuing this issue until we know why there was not more oversight of these CO-OPs and how to prevent further damage to taxpayers.
The Ways and Means Committee, of which I am a member, took an important step toward dismantling Obamacare by passing reconciliation legislation on Tuesday. This bill would repeal a series of significant pieces of the President’s health care law: the individual mandate, the employer mandate, the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB), the medical device tax, and the “Cadillac” tax. Without these onerous provisions, Obamacare would likely crumble under its own regulatory weight.
Reconciliation requires three House committees – the Ways and Means Committee, the Energy and Commerce Committee, and the Committee on Education and the Workforce – to each produce at least $1 billion in savings focused on taxes and spending under their respective jurisdictions. These bills are reported to the House Budget Committee, where they will be assembled into one reconciliation bill to be voted on by the full House. The bill then has an easier road to passage in the Senate, where only 51 votes are required rather than the usual 60-vote threshold. This process is our best opportunity to fulfill our commitment to the American people by finally putting an Obamacare repeal bill on the President’s desk.
Additionally, the House passed legislation this week called the Protecting Affordable Coverage for Employees Act, of which I am a cosponsor. This bill would allow employees to keep the health plans they like while protecting small businesses from higher premium costs under Obamacare. With small businesses providing 55 percent of all jobs in the United States, we need to make sure costly Obamacare regulations do not force them to close their doors.
Rampant problems with the President’s health care law continue to impact Nebraskans, but I am hopeful both chambers of Congress can come together and finally relieve Americans of Obamacare’s regulatory burdens while increasing access to quality care.