U.S. Representative Elijah Cummings of Maryland denounced “Republicans’ assault on health care.” Texas senatorial candidate Robert Francis O’Rourke claims that Republican “Ted Cruz has voted to take away healthcare from millions of American families…and he shut down the government for 16 days because he thought too many people had too much healthcare.” Democrats echo such lies through incalculable commercials, robo-calls, and door-knocks.
However, the good news about Republicans and healthcare may be the mid-terms’ biggest secret.
While ObamaCare has been neither repealed nor replaced, it is being superseded. As President Donald J. Trump said, “We will deliver relief to American workers, families, and small businesses, who right now are being crushed by Obamacare, by increasing freedom, choice, and opportunity for the American people.”
The total number of Americans with health insurance rose from 292.3 million in 2016 to 294.6 million in 2017, the Census Bureau reports. Some of the following new reforms have helped 2.3 million more Americans enjoy medical coverage and alternatives under Republican leadership rather than Democrat mismanagement.
• Republicans last December “ended the unfair individual mandate penalty” under ObamaCare, President Trump observed. “People are paying a lot of money for the privilege of not paying a lot of money for bad healthcare. And we’ve ended it.”
• Trump signed legislation in February to repeal the Independent Payments Advisory Board, also known as the “Death Panel” that would have rationed ObamaCare. IPAB is dead and threatens no one.
• As promised, Trump signed the Right to Try Act on May 30. Terminally-ill Americans who have exhausted other options now are free to use drugs that have passed the FDA’s Phase-1 safety trials but not yet passed effectiveness tests. The FDA’s “compassionate use” program only helped some 1,200 patients annually, the White House estimates. It added: “’Right to Try’” gives the over 1 million Americans who die from a terminal illness every year a new tool to fight and make potentially lifesaving decisions about their treatment.”
• The Trump Administration in June authorized “association health plans.” Entrepreneurs, small employers, and civic organizations now may join hands and insure their employees and members, even across state lines.
• Last summer, the administration extended the duration of short-term, limited health plans from three months to one year, with renewals permitted up to three years. In essence, Team Trump increased 12-fold the allowable length of short-term policies. “For example, according to E-Health, the average lowest premium for an Obamacare plan for a 40-year old woman is about $4,200 per year,” Trump noted. “By contrast, the average lowest premium for short-term coverage for this individual is about $1,300 a year — a savings of $3,000” — or 69 percent off.
• The administration in August required hospitals to post the prices of their procedures online and update them annually. Patients will be able to shop around for treatment. Such competition should slow or even counteract medical-cost inflation.
• The president this month signed two bills that increase drug-price transparency. “Our great citizens deserve to know the lowest price available at our pharmacies,” he said.
• The administration opposes “gag clauses” in Medicare Part D plans. Pharmacists now are free to tell patients about money-saving prescription-drug options.
• President Trump has turned the FDA’s red lights green. “We’ve massively sped up the FDA approval process,” he said October 10. “Last year, the FDA approved more than 1,000 low-cost generics — the most in its history…saving America almost $9 billion.”
These reforms may explain the most startling development of all: Obamacare’s damage seems to be in remission. CMS reports that average ObamaCare premiums will drop 1.5 percent in 2019, the first decline since this monstrosity took full effect in 2014. Rates are expected to fall 16 percent in Pennsylvania and 26 percent in Tennessee. Today, 56 percent of counties in the federal exchange have only one insurer. Next year: 39 percent.
Ignore the Democrats. Republicans are making healthcare great again.