U.S. Congressman Paul Ryan Serving Wisconsin's 1st District

U.S. Congressman Paul Ryan Serving Wisconsin's 1st District

U.S. House of Representatives

Health Care

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The President’s Health Care Law

As I travel around Wisconsin, I hear from more and more individuals who have serious concerns about what the implementation of the Affordable Care Act (ACA--commonly referred to as Obamacare—will mean for them, their families and their businesses.) Indeed, businesses, policy experts, government actuaries, and even some supporters of the law have confirmed what the country already knew: the ACA is bad policy that does not accomplish what it was designed to do. Instead, the law spends trillions of dollars we don't have, raises taxes on workers, businesses and families, and puts the federal government squarely in the middle of health care decisions. And as we have seen over the past few months, it is resulting in cancellation notices and massive premium increases for families and individuals in Wisconsin and nationwide.

Following the passage of the ACA, the President made several critical promises about the law, but in what was arguably the most central promise made, President Obama stated: "That means that no matter how we reform health care, we will keep this promise to the American people: If you like your doctor, you will be able to keep your doctor, period. If you like your health-care plan, you'll be able to keep your health-care plan, period. No one will take it away, no matter what." However, the past several months have shown this to be a hollow promise as millions of Americans have received cancellation notices due to the ACA. This broken promise is affecting people's livelihoods, and Congress has acted to lessen the impact of these well-established problems resulting from the ACA.

In an effort to ensure Americans are able to keep the health insurance plans they like, Representative Fred Upton introduced H.R. 3350, the Keep Your Health Plan Act of 2013. This bill would allow health plans currently available on the individual market to continue next year, providing Americans the opportunity to continue to enroll in those plans without the Obamacare individual mandate penalty. As a cosponsor of this legislation, I was pleased to see the bill pass in the House on November 15, 2013—with my support—by a bipartisan vote of 261 to 157. Regrettably, President Obama issued a veto threat for H.R. 3350 on November 14, 2013.

In an April 2013 meeting of the Committee on Ways and Means, Secretary Sebelius repeatedly assured committee members that: "We are on track to meet the October 1st deadline"—in reference to the implementation date of the law. Unfortunately, the rollout of healthcare.gov is another example of the Administration's failure to meet a main objective of the ACA. On October 1, 2013, the health insurance marketplace on the ACA website opened to the public, which should have allowed individuals to view and ultimately enroll in plans. However, lengthy wait times, error messages, and losses of data were all too common on the site that is the linchpin for Americans required to participate in the ACA.

There is no doubt that health care reform is needed in this country, but the law the President signed aggravates the worst aspects of the U.S. health care system, without fixing what was and remains broken. The troubled rollout of the ACA goes far beyond a dysfunctional website. For too many Americans, the ACA simply means increased costs and cancellation notices. The negative effects of this law on hard-working Americans are sweeping, and instead of offering quick fixes that only temper the consequences, Congress should instead be focused on offering much-needed reforms to our nation's health care industry.

This is why Congress should advance solutions that strengthen health care security by taking power away from the government and insurance companies; and instead empowering patients with control over their care. These solutions should realign incentives so that individuals and their doctors—not government bureaucrats or insurance company bureaucrats—are the nucleus of our health care system. This requires reforms—which I have introduced in the past— to equalize the tax treatment of health care insurance, invite truth choice and competition, and ensure critical programs like Medicare and Medicaid can deliver on their promise in the 21st century.

The Fiscal Year 2015 Budget, The Path to Prosperity

Our government has a spending problem—a problem so large that it is driving up our debt, hurting our nation’s ability to create jobs, and threatening our future. In the past, Washington has not been truthful about the magnitude of these problems facing our country, but we can no longer afford to put off an honest, fact-based conversation on how to solve them.

No one person or party is responsible for the looming crisis. Yet the facts are clear: major spending increases have failed to deliver promised jobs. The safety net for the poor is coming apart at the seams. Government health and retirement programs are growing at unsustainable rates. The new health care law has created a tremendous fiscal burden, and a complex, inefficient tax code is holding back American families and businesses.

The House-passed budget repeals the President’s disastrous new health care law and protects the health and retirement security of those who need it. With the creation of Medicare in 1965, the United States made a commitment to help fund the medical care of elderly Americans to ensure that a serious illness would not exhaust their life savings or the assets and incomes of their working children and younger relatives. 

Medicare’s structural imbalance threatens beneficiaries’ access to quality, affordable care. Flaws in the structure of the program are driving up health care costs, which are, in turn, threatening to bankrupt the system – and ultimately the nation. Unless Congress fixes what’s broken in Medicare, without breaking what’s working, the program will end up causing exactly what it was created to avoid – millions of American seniors without adequate health security and a younger working generation saddled with enormous debts to pay for spending levels that cannot be sustained.

It is morally unconscionable for elected leaders to cling to an unsustainable status quo with respect to America’s health and retirement security programs. Current seniors and future generations deserve better than empty promises and a diminished country. Current retirees deserve the benefits around which they organized their lives. Future generations deserve health and retirement security they can count on. By making gradual structural improvements, Congress can preserve America’s social contract with retired workers.

Recognizing the problems facing Medicare, the House Budget Proposal:

  • Strengthens health and retirement security by taking power away from government bureaucrats and empowering patients with control over their care.

  • Repeals the new health care law’s unaccountable board of bureaucrats empowered to cut Medicare in ways that would jeopardize seniors’ access to care.

  • Saves Medicare for current and future generations, with no disruptions for those in and near retirement.

  • For younger workers, when they become eligible, Medicare will provide a premium-support payment and a list of guaranteed coverage options – including a traditional fee-for-service option – from which recipients can choose a plan that best suits their needs.

  • Premium support, competitive bidding, and more assistance for those with lower incomes or greater health care needs will ensure guaranteed affordability for all seniors.

Allowing the federal government to break its promises to current seniors and to future generations is unacceptable. The reforms outlined in the budget passed by the House protect and preserve Medicare for those in and near retirement, while saving and strengthening this critical program so that future generations can count on it to be there when they retire.

Reforming Medicaid in the Path to Prosperity

Medicaid is meant to offer affordable care to those in need.  Unfortunately, the program itself is bursting at the seams.  Medicaid is expected to grow at a rate of 9 percent per year through 2018 – far faster than the growth of the overall economy.  The Congressional Budget Office projects federal spending on this program to be $299 billion in fiscal year 2014; this is expected to nearly double within the next ten years.  Should this worrying trend continue to be ignored, Medicaid will continue to overwhelm state and federal budgets and fail the vulnerable people who need it most.

Specifically, the Path to Prosperity:

  • Secures the Medicaid benefit by converting the federal share of Medicaid spending into a block grant tailored to meet each state’s needs, indexed for inflation and population growth. This reform ends the misguided one-size-fits-all approach that has tied the hands of so many state governments. States will no longer be shackled by federally determined program requirements and enrollment criteria. Instead, they will have the freedom and flexibility to tailor a Medicaid program that fits the needs of their unique populations.

  • Improves the health-care safety net for low-income Americans by giving states the ability to offer their Medicaid populations more options and better access to care. Medicaid recipients, like all Americans, deserve to choose their own doctors and make their own health care decisions, instead of having Washington dictate those decisions for them.

  • Repeals the Medicaid expansion contained in the President’s Health Care Law and removes the laws burdensome programmatic mandates on state governments.

All Americans will pay more because of this broken Medicaid system – and not just in higher taxes. Because Medicaid’s reimbursement rates have been ratcheted down to below-market levels, the care that Medicaid patients receive is often substandard. Offering states more flexibility for their Medicaid beneficiaries will remove the stigma Medicaid recipients face, and allow them to take advantage of a range of options available. Several of the nation’s governors have made innovative proposals to fix Medicaid. This budget encourages further efforts in this direction.

Additional Information

Washington, DC Office
  • 1233 Longworth House Office Bldg
  • Washington, DC 20515
  • Phone: (202) 225-3031
  • Fax: (202) 225-3393
Janesville Office
20 South Main Street
Phone: (608) 752-4050
Suite 10
Fax: (608) 752-4711
Janesville, WI 53545
Toll Free: (888) 909-RYAN (7926)
Kenosha Office
5031 7th Avenue
Phone: (262) 654-1901
Kenosha, WI 53140
Fax: (262) 654-2156
Racine Office
216 6th Street
Phone: (262) 637-0510
Racine, WI 53403
Fax: (262) 637-5689
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