Sen. John Thune
It’s been more than seven years since Republicans first predicted that Obamacare would lead to higher costs and fewer health care options for the American people. I honestly hoped we’d be wrong and that Americans would be better off. But we weren’t. And they aren’t. Sure, Obamacare had good intentions, but good intentions don’t make up for bad policy.
Today, the problems created by the failed law continue to stack up – premiums and deductibles are skyrocketing, choices are diminishing, and co-ops are failing. Obamacare is in a death spiral, and South Dakotans deserve better than what they’re receiving.
The easy way out of this situation would be for Republicans to sit on the sidelines and watch Obamacare implode. It will. It’s only a matter of time. Early in this process, Democrats made it clear that they weren’t interested in working with Republicans unless certain unrealistic demands were met. So, while it would be far easier to just take a pass on reforming health care, I didn’t get involved in public service to be a benchwarmer. I got involved to get in the game.
I’ve been discussing Obamacare’s failures and the reasons why it needed to be overhauled since the law was first enacted back in 2010. Since then, the Senate Finance Committee, of which I’m a longtime member, has held more than 30 hearings on health care. The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions, which also plays an important role in health care reform, has held more than a dozen. It’s been well-litigated in the halls of Congress as well as in the court of public opinion. The issues aren’t new, nor are many of the ideas we’ve discussed along the way.
Most importantly, throughout this process, I’ve listened to South Dakotans who’ve shared their personal Obamacare experiences. From 2013-2017, premiums on the South Dakota health care exchange more than doubled. Those kinds of rate increases are simply unsustainable, particularly for South Dakota families living paycheck to paycheck. Some folks have told me they’re paying $2,000 per month in premiums and have $7,000+ deductibles. It’s hard to call it insurance when the plan is too expensive for a family to even see the benefits.
Over the past few months, my colleagues and I have worked hard to boil down our ideas and develop a legislative solution to deliver health care that is more affordable, patient-centered, and flexible than Obamacare. The Senate health care bill, the Better Care Act, would do just that. The bill would help stabilize insurance markets that are collapsing, improve affordability of health care, preserve access to care for those with pre-existing conditions, and sustain Medicaid, while also ensuring those who rely on the program don’t have the rug pulled out from under them. And I personally fought to include in the bill a tax credit that would help low-income South Dakotans and seniors – those who need it the most.
Our bill, which is a modest 142 pages long, isn’t perfect. No bill really is. But the Better Care Act represents a far better and more responsible approach to caring for the American people than the 2700-page disaster that is Obamacare. We must act now, because now is the time to move toward a better system that provides better, more affordable care for all South Dakotans.