There’s a saying that I find myself repeating often when it comes to policy discussions, "it may be easy, but it ain’t simple." This could not be truer than the ongoing tragedy that healthcare and health insurance have become under Obamacare.
Passed almost 10 years ago, Obamacare has literally failed every single one of its promises. It failed to lower premiums, failed to expand health coverage, failed to improve outcomes, failed to allow Americans to keep the doctors they wanted.
It was, as indicated by President Obama himself, one step on the course to a socialized healthcare system.
The failure of this policy was one of the pivotal reasons that the country gave Republicans the U.S. House, the U.S. Senate, more governors, and more state legislators than at any other time in our nation’s history.
It’s also one of many reasons why the country elected Donald Trump as president — to work with the Congress to repeal Obamacare and put the country back on sound market-oriented policy footing in healthcare.
Well, if 2017 taught us anything, it’s that policy reform may be easy, but it ain’t simple. To recap, with unprecedented leverage and against all reason, Congress failed to pass legislation to repeal Obamacare.
Left without a resolution, our health insurance markets have continued to wreak havoc on taxpayers. In a small but important piece of the 2017 tax reform package, Congress included an elimination of the tax penalty for not having coverage — getting rid of the individual mandate.
Nevertheless, the employer mandate, the Health Insurance Tax (HIT), Medicaid expansion, and many other disastrous elements of Obamacare remain.
It is against Congress’ failure to make good on its promise that President Trump has sought to do what rests within his authority to aid Americans struggling with Obamacare’s disastrous impacts. This week, President Trump took one big step in the right direction for improving options, expanding choice for small businesses, and protecting consumers desperately needing relief from Obamacare.
The major element of the president’s actions involves finalizing a Department of Labor (DOL) rule to allow more employers to form and join what are known as Association Health Plans (AHPs). These plans help employees by getting more individuals in the risk pool. These pools can be formed by city, county, state, or multi-state compact. They can be geographic or industry-specific.
As AHPs become more widely utilized, the injection of competition will assist employers and employees across the country. The potential ramifications could be enormous.
To put this into one possible real-world example, imagine that a national trade association decides to set up an AHP for its state-level affiliates. Those state-level affiliates then could offer the plans to their member employers.
If you are a small business, in particular a sole-proprietorship, one of the single biggest line item expenditures you have (because of your size) is health insurance. According to available federal data sources, 15 million Americans currently with a small business or sole proprietorship lack coverage. Imagine being able to finally afford it because you can join your trade association plan.
Critical to the success of AHPs would be maintaining adequate protections for consumers. It’s no shock that one of the biggest concerns facing Americans, due to the nature of most insurance plans, is the fear of having insurance canceled for getting sick or having a preexisting condition that precludes you from getting coverage. This is particularly challenging in the employer-based coverage market.
Individuals can often feel shackled to a job solely to keep their health insurance. AHPs address this legitimate concern. The final rule developed by the Trump Department of Labor includes protections so that plans can’t deny coverage or charge higher premiums to people with preexisting conditions or cancel coverage if an individual gets sick.
In the absence of the Congress doing what it promised and passing a law repealing Obamacare and moving our healthcare system in a better direction, we are left with the tools at hand. President Trump has made a bold move with the expansion of AHPs and is showing a commitment to lead.
I am hopeful that as AHPs become more prevalent and organizations begin leveraging this option, Americans of all stripes will find that they owe a note of thanks to our president for this effort.
Dr. Robert McClure provides expert perspective on current issues facing our nation and his home state of Florida, the third-largest state in the nation and a policy bellwether for the country. Recently named one of the Most Influential People in Florida Politics, Dr. McClure serves as the President and CEO of The James Madison Institute, Florida’s premier free-market think tank. He is a frequent commentator on television and talk radio programs and has lectured nationally on diverse policy issues. Dr. McClure has been published numerous times at both the state and national level on topics including property rights, tax policy, health care, and education reform. To read more of his reports — Click Here Now.
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