Americans are relying on leaders in Washington to fix health care, not engage in yet another unproductive partisan standoff. In 2010, one side of the political aisle in Congress, the Democrats, chose to “fix” health care unilaterally, without bipartisan support. The result was Obamacare, which has run up government spending while failing to drive down the cost of health care.
Paul Ryan says his current plan to repeal and replace Obamacare involves more than the budget reconciliation bill currently up for debate.
Now, with the political tables turned in Washington, the Republicans are starting down the same unilateral path, a course that can only further divide the nation. A true and lasting reform of the health insurance system must be accomplished by bringing the two sides together, not by replacing one divisive wedge with another.
Throughout my career, I’ve learned that meaningful change happens only with bipartisan support. When I was chairman of the House Budget Committee in the 1990s, we were able to make over Pentagon spending, revamp welfare and balance the federal budget for the first time in decades because Democrats and Republicans made a commitment to work together. We disagreed and debated, but in the end we agreed to changes that strengthened our country.
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A responsible, and necessary, repeal and replacement of Obamacare must balance cost and coverage. It is unrealistic to think that cutting coverage saves any money, since we will only see uninsured people returning to the emergency room for their care — and walking away from unpaid bills. We can avoid that problem by embracing a plan that both preserves coverage for those who have it and achieves savings with badly needed Medicaid reforms.
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I have always opposed Obamacare and consistently called for it to be replaced with more conservative, market-driven reforms that actually control health care costs. Republican legislation now moving swiftly through the House takes steps in that direction. But the legislation also phases out the expanded Medicaid coverage that is in place in Ohio and 30 other states. Not having a viable alternative is counterproductive and unnecessarily puts at risk our ability to treat the drug-addicted, mentally ill and working poor who now have access to a dependable source of care.
Read the rest of the column on the New York Times website
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