A top House Republican expert on health-care policy calls President Obama’s blame of insurers, employers and Republicans for the problems in a health-care system that Obama insists is working very well evidence that Obama is “delusional” and “living in a parallel universe,” and says Republicans are ready to implement patient-centered reforms.
On Thursday, President Obama visited Miami, Florida, to stump for Hillary Clinton but also to defend his signature health-care law and call for some changes to improve the system. The speech came on the heels of insurance companies announcing significant premium hikes for 2017.
House Budget Committee Chairman Tom Price, R-Ga., says the soaring costs of health care are crippling and were completely foreseeable.
“It looks like the average premium increase for 2017 is going to be around 30 percent nationwide,” Price told WND and Radio America. “This was all predictable and was predicted by us. The fact of the matter is, you can’t set up a health-care system the way that the president and his administration and his partners have done and expect that these costs aren’t going to rise significantly.”
On Thursday in Florida, Obama insisted the system was great for 90 percent of Americans. He said those who get their coverage through their employers or through Medicaid are fine. He believes action only needs to be taken for the 10 percent who buy their insurance through the health-care exchanges.
Obama launched a three-pronged offensive of blame, first saying anyone who is frustrated with their coverage and gets it privately through the workplace should point the finger at their bosses.
“Some people may say, ‘Well, I’ve seen my co-pays go up or my networks have changed.’ But these are decisions that are made by your employers. It’s not because of Obamacare,” Obama said Thursday.
Price immediately fired back on Obama’s pinning of the blame on employers.
“What the president says just isn’t true,” Price said. “Employers have changed what they’re providing in terms of health coverage because they’re being required to change, with the employer mandate, what they have to offer their employees for health coverage. This is a direct result of Obamacare, or the ACA, contrary to what the president says. He’s living in a parallel universe.”
Listen to the WND/Radio America interview with Rep. Tom Price, R-Ga.:
Next, Obama blamed soaring premiums in the individual marketplace on insurance companies.
“Although the marketplaces are working well in most of the states, there are some states where there’s still not enough competition between insurers,” Obama said Thursday. “So if you only have one insurer, they may decide, ‘We’re going to jack up rates because we can because nobody else is offering a better price.'”
Again, Price is left shaking his head.
“Obamacare, the ACA, has virtually destroyed the individual and small group market,” he said. “We’ve now got a third of the counties in this country where there’s only one choice on the exchange. That’s not a choice if you only have one health coverage plan that you can select. These consequences are a direct result of the rules and the regulations and the requirements put forward in Obamacare.”
Price said it’s not just Republicans who believe Obama isn’t dealing it straight to the American people.
“He’s living in a fantasy world if he doesn’t believe that there are fundamental, foundational problems with this law,” Price said. “Many, many individuals in Washington understand and appreciate this, including some on his side of the aisle, whom I’ve spoken with, and they’ve been reluctant to change any of this while he’s in office.”
Perhaps the part of Obama’s speech that’s most galling for Obamacare opponents is the president ascribing sinister motives to those who continue to oppose his law.
“So what’s the problem? Why is there still such a fuss?” Obama asked. “Well, part of the problem is the fact that a Democratic president named Barack Obama passed the law. And that’s just the truth. I mean I worked really, really hard to engage Republicans.”
However, Price said nothing could be further from the truth.
“He’s just delusional, and it’s so very, very sad,” Price said. “When he was putting forth his bill, I was chairman of the Republican Study Committee at that time. We came forward with our alternative even before Obamacare was introduced.
“We reached out to the administration and the White House every single week for over a year. Every single week, simply asking for a meeting to talk about the kinds of solutions that we believe would be helpful for the plan that he was working on. We never got any response from the administration.
“It’s just so deceitful for him to lay that line out before the American people,” said Price. “It’s not because it’s a Democrat plan. It’s not because he was put forward by Barack Obama. We oppose the plan because it doesn’t work for people. It doesn’t work for patients.”
Price points to directly to the House Republican plan to reform the health-care system. He notes there are one-page, three-page and 40-page versions of the plan, depending on the amount of detail Americans want to dig into.
Among the core principles in the Republican approach, Price first points to the need for flexibility.
“We must absolutely provide flexibility for patients all across this land so that they’re the ones who are choosing who treats them, where they’re treated, when and how and the like. That flexibility does not exist now,” Price said. “We need flexibility for the folks providing the care, for the doctors. They need to be the ones that are working with their patients and deciding what kind of treatment is needed for a specific diagnosis.”
He also said Washington needs to help Americans afford health coverage.
“We believe everybody ought to gain health coverage, but we believe they ought to gain the kind of coverage that they want to purchase for themselves and their family, not that the government forces you to buy,” Price explained.
“We have a very specific proposal for tax credits or refundable credits or advanceable refundable credits based on age for every single American that would make it so that there’s financial feasibility for every single American,” Price said.
He also calls for expanded options with Health Savings Accounts, or HSAs, allowing more high-deductible catastrophic plans so young people will have incentive to get coverage, and “lawsuit abuse reform” that will protect the medical community and drive down costs.