For five years, I have fought for the day that we could put a bill on the President’s desk that would repeal Obamacare. January 7, 2016, turned out to be that day.
From my first day on the job to now, I have spoken to thousands of South Dakotans about the President’s health care law. The mandates. The costs. The plans that have been lost. Year after year, the problems seem to become more pronounced – and more expensive. It’s hard to believe, but this year, every single health care plan on the exchange in South Dakota saw a double-digit rate increase, according to analysis from Agile Health Insurance. It’s too expensive and there seems to be no end to these increases in sight.
The President’s health care law fundamentally failed to do anything that actually drives down the cost of health care in this country. Instead, Obamacare issued top-down mandates to ensure more people would foot an even larger bill. It isn’t working.
Nonetheless, President Obama was quick to threaten a veto on our legislation. That doesn’t mean, however, that we don’t owe it to the American people to take our best shot at repealing a piece of legislation that the majority of Americans oppose. Moreover, we’ve been able to get some smaller wins by making big pushes in this way. In fact, we’ve had more than a dozen repeals or delays of Obamacare provisions become law because of our efforts.
We’ve been working toward this for a long time. I’ve joined the House in passing a number of full and partial repeals, but our efforts have repeatedly been blocked by Senate Democrats. This time, however, we were able to use a process called “budget reconciliation,” which allows Congress – once a year – to avoid a Senate filibuster and pass legislation with a simple majority in the Senate. There are strings attached to that process, so we weren’t able to do a full and complete repeal, but we did successfully target major portions of the President’s health care law, including the individual and employer mandates.
We also found significant savings for hardworking taxpayers. In fact, the Congressional Budget Office estimates our legislation would reduce the deficit by $516 billion over 10 years.
I understand it’s not enough just to repeal Obamacare. Our health care system is broken. But there is a better way. We could create competition by letting people purchase insurance across state lines. Small businesses could be allowed to pool together to purchase more affordable coverage. You could get a tax break for purchasing insurance, rather than a tax penalty if you didn’t. There is an alternative – a conservative, patient-centered alternative.
This isn’t the last you’ll hear from me on this, I’m sure. Even if we can’t replace Obamacare under this administration, I will do everything I can to provide relief where possible until we have a new President. And in the meantime, I’m grateful that we got a bill through Democrat gridlock and to the President, a small victory.