By Rep. Kristi Noem
October 2, 2015
Nearly one in three health insurance plans sold nationwide on HealthCare.gov next year will see double-digit rate increases. In South Dakota, those kinds of increases are expected for 100 percent of the plans, according to an analysis done by Agile Health Insurance this September. The President’s health care law fundamentally failed to drive down the cost of health care in this country and now hardworking families are left to foot an ever-increasing bill.
Congressional Republicans have tried many different approaches to repeal the President’s bill in full and even in part. We’ve been successful in getting portions of the bill repealed nearly a dozen times, which has already saved billions of dollars. But more must be done.
This September, I helped the House Ways and Means Committee advance legislation that aims to repeal five core elements of the President’s health care law: the individual mandate, the employer mandate, the Independent Payment Advisory Board (or IPAB), the medical device tax, and the “Cadillac tax.” This legislation uses a tool called “budget reconciliation” to help protect the language from being stopped by Democrats in the Senate.
In the Senate, almost every bill requires at least three votes: one to start debate, one to end debate, and a final vote on passage. The first two votes require a 60-vote majority before the legislation can move forward. Since there are just 54 Republicans in the Senate, most bills require the support of at least six Democrats, making any legislation very difficult to move forward – especially bills that would repeal parts of the President’s signature health care law.
Because of Senate rules, however, reconciliation bills bypass the 60-vote threshold and can pass with just a simple majority – or 51 votes.
There are limits with this approach, however. For instance, this tactic can only be used once a year, every provision within the bill must directly impact revenue, and it must produce an overall cost savings. You might remember that Senate Democrats used this same tactic in 2010 to pass a portion of Obamacare. But just as the President’s health care law couldn’t be passed in full through budget reconciliation, it also can’t be completely repealed through budget reconciliation alone. Nonetheless, reconciliation is the best tool we have to get repeals to the President’s desk that offer meaningful relief to families struggling under Obamacare.
If we are able to tear down the most harmful portions of the President’s health care law, we could stop the entire program in its tracks, which would give us the ability to replace it with a more affordable, patient-centered system.
That replacement system would allow people to buy insurance across state lines. It would provide tax incentives to help families pay for a health insurance plan that worked for them. It would reform medical malpractice laws while continuing to safeguard individuals with pre-existing conditions.
A better system that isn’t accompanied by double-digit cost increases is possible. We just need the chance to implement it and our budget reconciliation language moves us in the right direction.