Opinion

Democrats Are Celebrating Higher Health Care Costs. Here’s Why

Media credit Ricardo Reitmeyer/Shutterstock

Rep. Ron Estes Congressman, Kansas's 4th District

Despite grand promises that Obamacare would make health care affordable for and accessible to middle-class families, the opposite has occurred.

From 2010–2016, health insurance premiums increased by $4,372 per family. This year, health insurance costs increased about 30 percent and are expected to go up an additional 10 to 20 percent in 2019.

Across the country, the “affordable” in the Affordable Care Act has been elusive. Americans are facing skyrocketing costs and dwindling choices.

Heading into the mid-term elections, Democrats are cynically celebrating soaring health care costs. Obamacare is in a death spiral and Democrats couldn’t be happier. They hope to obstruct any progress on health reform and blame rising prices on Republicans.

Case in point: This week the House of Representatives will consider a package of bipartisan bills passed out of the House Ways and Means Committee with the help of only a handful of Democrats.

When the package is considered on the House floor this week, it will be interesting to see if Democrats continue to play politics or finally work with Republicans to lower health care costs for Americans.

This package will dramatically expand the ways Health Savings Accounts — or HSAs — can help consumers. HSAs allow consumers to set aside pre-tax money for healthcare expenses. HSAs are important because they put patients, not politicians, in the driver’s seat.

Turning patients into shoppers and equipping them with buying power is the best way to expand choice, force competition, spur innovation and lower costs.

The package will boost the contribution limits for HSAs, give consumers more flexibility about how they can use their HSAs and allow consumers to use HSA funds to help buy “catastrophic” or Obamacare “bronze” plans.

This will help rescue middle-class families Democrats have pushed off Obamacare’s subsidy cliff by denying subsidies to middle-class families who earn a dollar over the income cutoff (400 percent of poverty).

We’ll protect Americans who participate in market-friendly and patient-focused direct primary care (DPC) arrangements. Anti-choice Democrats don’t like DPC because it puts individuals, rather than government, in control. We’ll relax rules preventing Americans from using HSA funds for DPC and allow DPC provider fees to be covered with HSA funds.

The package also emphasizes prevention. We’ll permit the use of HSA dollars toward wellness benefits, including exercise, which is a proven way to help contain costs while promoting good health outcomes.

Democrats are angry because we’re calling their bluff. They don’t want to contain costs because taking back power is more important than caring for people this close to an election.

As Ways and Means Committee Chairman Kevin Brady said, “Americans should have the ability to save and spend their health care dollars the way they want and need. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case for many families, thanks in part to flawed Obamacare policies and regulations.”

The Democrats’ argument that President Trump and congressional Republicans are conspiring to “sabotage” Obamacare is ludicrous. The truth is Obamacare sabotaged itself. Obamacare was not only destined to fail; it was designed to fail.

In 2013, then-Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) said, “What we’ve done with Obamacare is have a step in the right direction, but we’re far from having something that’s going to work forever.”

It is no coincidence that as Democrats refuse to back common-sense measures to lower costs, they’re rallying around single-payer, government-run health care. That’s been their plan and ambition all along.

Last Thursday, 70 House Democrats launched a “Medicare for All” caucus, which is the left’s rebranded and recycled push for single-payer health care.

This past week, socialists Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez brought their single-payer crusade to my congressional district. But Kansans and Americans won’t be fooled.

The only system that has ever made things cheaper and better is the free enterprise system. Nearly three times as many Americans are already enrolled in an HSA compared to Obamacare. And the government has never mandated anyone to participate in an HSA.

Putting you, not Washington, in control is the only way to lower health care costs. That’s precisely what the package the House is considering this week will do.

Congressman Ron Estes represents the people of Kansas’s 4th district in the U.S. House of Representatives.


The views and opinions expressed in this commentary are those of the author and do not reflect the official position of The Daily Caller.