It’s clear from last November’s elections that voters wanted to hear answers to the pressing issues of the day. Even if they didn’t agree with everything they heard, they wanted to know that candidates were ready to act.
That’s why I’m glad to help get things started in the 115th Congress by beginning the process of rolling back ever-expanding government rules and regulations.
In my first few weeks in Congress, I’ve joined with my colleagues — Republican and Democrat — to vote for regulatory relief on several fronts. By amending the Congressional Review Act, Congress may now quickly rescind a bevy of last-minute regulations from an outgoing administration, providing real relief from the very substantial costs these rules impose.
To be sure, both parties have used these “midnight rules,” but the current administration has set a new regulatory bar of 145 additional edicts from Election Day to the end of the year, at a total economic cost of $22 billion, according to the Wall Street Journal.
That’s why the House also passed the REINS Act (Regulations from the Executive in Need of Scrutiny), requiring that Congress approve of any new “economically significant” regulations before they become law. This, along with the Regulatory Accountability Act, is an important piece in restoring the balance of power in Washington so that the proper deference to lawmaking is where it belongs — in Congress with legislators who are accountable to the people.
No matter which party is in control.
Republicans have already made great progress in unleashing economic growth by relieving job creators of the costly regulations that now fill more than 82,000 pages in the Federal Register.
Yet the mother of all regulatory nightmares, Obamacare, remains to be addressed. In fact, the situation is so dire that even Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton sheepishly admitted that the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is “no longer affordable.” Obamacare promised to reduce health insurance premiums by as much as $2,500 per family. Today the Kaiser Family Foundation reports that premiums (including my own) are an average $4,865 higher.
This isn’t right for Minnesotans. Succinctly, it’s time to let customers buy the plan they want, not the plan the government thinks they should have.
Because the law mandated the most expensive coverage for everyone, many people — especially the young — have been priced out of the market. Right here in Minnesota, we’ve seen the system collapse under MNsure with back-to-back individual premium increases of well more than 50 percent in the last two years! Moreover, tens of thousands won’t be choosing a plan, but getting shoved into a default option.
The net result is a health-care system bursting at the seams as employers drop costly coverage and dump part-timers onto bureaucratic “exchanges,” while providers refuse new patients due to government price controls. Obamacare even reduced the amount of out-of-pocket health expenses families could deduct by raising the threshold from 7.5 percent to 10 percent of adjusted income.
It’s time to empower health-care consumers by undoing the costly ACA “mandates,” allowing individuals to buy policies across state lines, and enacting true portability by giving the individual — not just corporations — tax advantages for purchasing affordable care.
Critics will say we shouldn’t start on repealing and replacing this ill-thought-out law, which was rushed through Congress by the Democratic leadership in 2010 over the objections of Republicans and 34 Democrats. Well, Republicans should take their time and do health-care reform the right way, by looking at all options — but it is incumbent on Congress to act.
Failure to start the process of repeal is not an option when you consider that Obamacare’s massive increases in premiums, deductibles and copays (not to mention much stricter drug formularies) are themselves the biggest culprit in denying access to quality health care.
In fact, 2017 will see roughly 1,000 counties served by just one insurer, up from 225 in 2016 — a 300 percent increase. The inconvenient truth is that if you liked your health care plan, you can’t keep it.
That’s why Republicans in the House have passed a budget resolution, which is the first step to repeal and replace Obamacare. And that’s why we will continue to pass legislation that affords the best opportunity for a return to quality health care for all Minnesotans.
Jason Lewis, a Republican, represents Minnesota’s Second Congressional District. He is a member of the House Budget Committee.