My office has heard from hundreds of South Dakotans who are worried about the new health care law’s costs.  One family in White, S.D., said their premiums are going up 6.7 percent.  A Sioux Falls family is looking at a $2,000 per year increase.  A retired teacher in Sisseton said her premiums were jumping nearly $200 per month even though she was getting worse coverage than she had before.

I have joined the House of Representatives in passing a number of corrections to the law that I hope will offer relief to these families, but no matter how many fixes we try to pass, the existing law is built on a horribly cracked foundation that I don’t believe can be repaired.

We also can’t go back to how it used to be either.  Our health care system wasn’t working properly and as a result, costs for families and businesses were steadily increasing and the quality of care wasn’t where it could have been.

I’ve written a lot in the past about what I don’t like about the new system and why I support its repeal, but today, I want to talk about an alternative to the Affordable Care Act that I’m supporting.

I don’t believe any family should have to jeopardize their financial security because of a freak accident or an unpreventable illness, like cancer.  I also believe families should be able to choose a plan that works for them and that everyone should have access to an affordable health insurance plan.

Last October, I signed on as a co-sponsor to the American Health Care Reform Act.  I believe the legislation offers a better way forward for patients, workers, and families without increasing taxes or imposing mandates on anyone.  The bill does this in a number of ways.

First, the American Health Care Reform Act offers every taxpayer a standard deduction when they purchase health insurance.  These are benefits that companies already enjoy.  Individuals would get a $7,500 deduction on their taxes and families would get a $20,000 standard deduction.  I’m hopeful this would incentivize families to purchase insurance rather than mandate it as current law does.

Last week, I met with business leaders in Brookings to talk about the Affordable Care Act’s impact on their employees and businesses.  We also discussed possible solutions.  One of the solutions brought up most frequently was the idea that companies and individuals should be able to purchase health insurance across state lines.  This bill allows for that.  I’m hopeful this will increase competition and therefore decrease premium costs.

Additionally, the legislation addresses the country’s medical liability crisis, which plays a significant role in escalating health care costs.  The bill caps non-economic damages and limits attorney’s fees to help bring down costs.

The American Health Care Reform Act also improves insurance portability protections for those who have pre-exiting conditions and fully repeals the Affordable Care Act so we can start with a clean slate when enacting these new provisions.

The Affordable Care Act was driven through the legislative process with input only from the leaders of a single political party.  That’s not the way we want to do it with the American Health Care Reform Act.  We want to move this bill toward passage through regular order, meaning Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle will be able to weigh in and offer amendments throughout the process. 

The existing law isn’t working.  The President alone has made about two dozen changes to the law to try to make it work, and seven of the bills that were passed in the House have become law to provide further relief.  It’s time to look for an alternative.  I believe the American Health Care Reform Act puts us on a path to a better way.

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