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Hathorne: Time To Repeal Affordable Care Act

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Commentary:  The Affordable Care Act is no longer affordable, for anyone. It never was. Average premiums for Obamacare plans will go up 25 percent this year with some states seeing as much as a 116 percent increase. The Chicago Tribune reports on 12/20/16 that Blue Cross Blue Shield of NM will go up by 65%. Health insurance companies are dropping out of the exchanges left and right leaving 5 states and about a third of all U.S. counties with only one option to buy insurance. And let’s not forget about the 17 Obamacare CO-OPs that failed, leaving hundreds of thousands of Americans without insurance and costing billions in taxpayer dollars. According to reports in 2015, $5.4 billion have been spent on exchanges today.  Many of those exchanges are collapsing.  New Mexico will see huge costs pushed on to the state taxpayers.  We need to come up with $86 million for the current fiscal year.

Since 2010, Republicans have promised to fully repeal Obamacare, campaigned on full repeal, and voted over 60 times to repeal parts or all of this disastrous healthcare law. Now that the American people gave Republicans unified control of the government, there are no more excuses. The so-called “two budget” repeal strategy is the best path forward.

Congress should begin this process in January by passing the fiscal year 2017 budget that failed to pass earlier in the year. That generic budget would also allow them to use a filibuster-proof process known as budget reconciliation to pass a simple, one-sentence repeal of Obamacare with 51 Senate votes and have it ready for President-elect Trump to sign soon after inauguration. 

Once Obamacare is repealed, Congress should pass a second budget for fiscal year 2018 that lowers spending levels and then debate and pass a series of conservative, free-market healthcare reforms that enact consumer choice, strengthen the doctor-patient relationship and lower cost.

This two budget strategy will ensure that momentum for Obamacare repeal does not stall. It also provides ample time for individuals who have insurance through the Obamacare exchanges to transition back to the individual market without losing coverage. After all, the original promise of healthcare has been reduced to an inflated promise of insurance; the two are not the same.  American people are so close to taking back their health care. Our Republican leaders in Congress have one last chance to make it a reality. There are no more excuses.