Weekly Column by Lamar Alexander: “What Republicans Would Do About Health Care if We Were in Charge”

Posted on May 19, 2014

Republicans want to repair the damage of Obamacare and move in a different direction to put in place proposals that would increase freedom, increase choices and save money. The most important thing Republicans said at President Obama’s health care summit in 2010, and the most important thing we could say today, is what we would do instead. Since the implementation of Obamacare we have seen what we warned against come true: premiums rising, plans canceled, people losing jobs, Medicare beneficiaries being hurt, and people losing their doctors.

On May 8, in a Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee hearing, I discussed these ideas with Sylvia Mathews Burwell, who is being considered as the president’s nominee for Secretary of Health and Human Services to replace Kathleen Sebelius. In the hearing, I laid out Republicans’ step-by-step plan for repairing the damage Obamacare has caused and turning health care in the right direction.

As responsibly and rapidly as we can, Republicans want to prevent further harm and repair the damage by putting in place proposals that would increase freedom, offer more choices, and lower costs. That has been our plan since the health care debate first began. Reforming health care needs to be a step-by-step process, not a 2,700 page comprehensive bill that rewrites 20 percent of the economy.

Republican proposals to repair the damage of Obamacare would allow Americans to keep health care plans they already have, buy insurance policies sold in other states, buy major medical policies that would provide peace of mind in the face of serious health events, and use more of their money tax-free on health expenses through expanded health savings accounts.

In addition to these steps to change direction, Republicans are also offering solutions that would allow small businesses to combine their purchasing power to offer employees lower cost health plans and give employers freedom to reward employees for healthy lifestyles. We would also give governors more flexibility to spend their states’ Medicaid dollars to deliver better health at lower costs, and help the states avoid the proliferation of unnecessary lawsuits.

We already know the damage that passing this law has done to our health insurance system and to our economy. I am pleased the Senate has the opportunity to press Ms. Burwell for her support on common-sense step-by-step solutions to turn our health care system in the right direction.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services alone spends nearly $1 trillion a year, and Republicans are hoping Americans give us the opportunity to take this spending in a different direction to repair and prevent any further damage. We need a health care system with more freedom, more choices, and lower costs where Americans can make these choices themselves because that is American way.