Weekly Columns

Tackling Health Care

Mar 22 2013

As a former Razorback football player, I learned a long time ago that anyone can talk a big game. Quarterbacks can always promise to throw touchdowns and win games. Commentators and coaches can always make predictions. Receivers can always guarantee to outrun a cornerback. 

But in football, as in life, results matter.  

I say this as the three-year anniversary of the health care law approaches. Three years ago we were promised many, many things. We were told the law would reduce health care insurance costs. We were told the law would protect Medicare. We were told the law would not add to our deficit. We were told the law would make it easier for small businesses to grow. These were some pretty bold promises. 

Just as football teams review game tape, three years later, it’s time for us to ask ourselves:

“Did these promises in the health care law pan out?” 

The answer to this question is “No.” 

I opposed the health care law when it came before me in the House of Representatives, and I have continually fought for its repeal in the Senate. While much of this law was well-intended, it has not delivered as promised. We need to address preexisting conditions, increase access to care, and rein-in soaring insurance costs. But a health care overhaul that doubles-down on a broken system, threatens Medicare, and does nothing to control costs is not the answer. 

It’s time for Congress to reexamine this law and implement real, commonsense health care reforms. 

First, we need to push for fairness. We need a basic safety net for the vulnerable, but everyone needs to have skin-in-the game. We cannot afford to have middle-class Arkansans paying steep premiums and copays, with others paying little or nothing. Second, if we care about patients, we need to offer them choice and portability. No one should fear that they’ll lose coverage if they switch jobs. Employees deserve flexibility and incentives for responsible behavior. Third, we need reforms that improve our health care delivery system. We need doctor-led quality measures and a level playing field between hospitals and providers. Fourth, we must control costs. We must reform our medical system and reduce frivolous lawsuits. We cannot afford to waste health care dollars with doctors practicing defensive medicine to protect themselves from lawsuits. We must root out waste, fraud, and abuse. 

Most Americans have real concerns with this law. They are rightfully worried about increased health care costs and decreased quality of care. With nine months to go until full implementation, most experts are bracing for a rocky landing. Moving forward, I am ready to address any unintended consequences that may arise from this law, and I will continue to fight for healthcare reforms that put patients in control of their health care decisions, lower costs, expand coverage, and improve quality for all Americans.