Never mind fixing Obamacare, Texas Rep. Michael Burgess said in the weekly Republican address on Saturday – just junk the whole law and start from scratch.
“As a physician, I know our health care system needs improvement – but this law is already failing,” Burgess said. “The best thing we can do now is scrap it and start over with a step-by-step approach that focuses on lower costs and patient-centered solutions.”Republicans who long opposed the president’s health care reform plan have been emboldened by its rocky debut, which has been marred by a dysfunctional website at the law’s core and millions of insurance cancellations as a result of the law’s regulations. Brandishing angry constituent letters, they’ve stepped up their demands for a root-and-branch repeal of the law.
“Many families are now learning that they may not just lose their plan. But if they like their doctor, they may lose their doctor too,” Burgess said, relaying the story of a constituent with multiple sclerosis who was notified that her insurance would be canceled.
“When trying to sign up for a new plan, she was told she had to have her identity verified,” he said. “After going through all of the steps to do just that, she never heard back. When she called a couple weeks later to find out how long it would take, they had no answer.” Burgess continued: “'This is beyond stressful,’ she writes. ‘Can I continue to see my neurologist? Will I still have access to my medications? It is heartbreaking and by far the most broken system I’ve ever seen.’”
“Isn’t this exactly the kind of confusion and uncertainty that the president promised to fix?” Burgess asked. “Many Americans are now questioning the White House’s credibility, and rightfully so. They are right to expect the president to admit his mistakes and start giving some clear answers.”
President Obama has offered a public show of contrition for the law’s rough launch, particularly the website problems that have prevented people seeking insurance from browsing plans in the law’s online marketplace at HealthCare.gov. His administration has vowed that the website will be working smoothly for the vast majority of users by the end of November.
The president also apologized to anyone who felt misled after they heard his repeated assurance that they could keep their current insurance under Obamacare only to have it canceled shortly after the law’s launch. Some Democrats have defended the cancellations, though, arguing that many of the plans being annulled offered substandard coverage that did not meet the minimum standards stipulated under the new law and would not protect against bankruptcy.
In his own weekly address on Saturday, the president spoke to broader themes of economic recovery, touting a rebound in employment and domestic energy production, but he reserved some sharp words for Republicans, scolding them for their zero-sum opposition to his agenda and their dozens of votes to repeal Obamacare.
“Imagine how much farther along we could be if both parties were working together,” he said. “Think about what we could do if a reckless few didn’t hold the economy hostage every few months or waste time on dozens of votes to repeal the Affordable Care Act rather than try to help us fix it.”
He conceded that the rollout of the law’s marketplace has been “rough,” but he argued that the law is already beginning to yield benefits for consumers.
“About 500,000 Americans are poised to gain health coverage starting January 1st,” he said. “And by the way, health care costs are growing at the slowest rate in 50 years.”
On Wednesday, the president’s Council of Economic Advisers released a report highlighting the Affordable Care Act’s role in curbing health care spending.
“Recent data show that health care spending and prices are growing at their slowest rates in decades; it appears that something has changed for the better,” wrote CEA chairman Jason Furman in a blog post on the White House website. “While this marked slowdown likely has many causes, and these causes are not yet fully understood, the available evidence suggests that the [Affordable Care Act] is contributing to these trends.”
“ACA provisions that reduce Medicare overpayments to private insurers and medical providers are contributing to the recent slow growth in health care prices and spending,” he explained. “Other ACA reforms are reducing hospital readmission rates and increasing provider participation in payment models designed to promote efficient, high-quality care.”