Here’s a better way to afford healthcare

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 5, 2016

By Rep. Bradley Byrne

Last week was the third anniversary of the disastrous Obamacare rollout. What followed was a broken website, cancelled healthcare plans, higher deductibles and fewer doctors.

Three years later, the same problems remain. American families are faced with fewer and fewer healthcare options, and premiums continue to increase on many plans. Many healthy, younger Americans are content paying the fine for not having healthcare instead of choosing a plan they cannot afford.

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In other words, Obamacare appears to be collapsing. The law was written with such haste and without bipartisan input, and now we are seeing the law’s fatal flaws unravel before our eyes, and the American people are suffering.

I’ve always said that we need to do more than just be opposed to Obamacare. In fact, it would be irresponsible to only point out the law’s failures without working on an alternative that solves the problems.

As House Republicans worked on our “Better Way” agenda over the last year, we decided to focus one of our planks on healthcare. You see, health care continues to be one of the top concerns facing every American family and small business.

Our “Better Way” plan is built around one common principle: in a confident America, everyone has access to quality, affordable healthcare.

First and foremost, our plan acknowledges that Obamacare is beyond repair. We cannot simply try to patch and repair Obamacare’s failures. We must completely repeal the failed law. Our plan puts the emphasis on patient-centered care instead of a larger government bureaucracy.

A major component of our “Better Way” plan is to give Americans more choices when it comes to healthcare. We need to spur competition and innovation, which in turn will help drive down costs. We do this by making healthcare portable and offering a refundable tax credit to help you buy insurance on the individual market.

Our plan would also allow for health insurance to be sold across state lines. Again, this will open up competition and help reduce costs.

We must also ensure that health care is available to Americans with pre-existing conditions, so our plan says that every American, no matter their health status, has the comfort of knowing they cannot be denied coverage.

For young Americans, our plan would continue to allow dependents up to the age of 26 to stay on their parents’ healthcare plan. This is important for young people who may still be struggling to get ahead in our sluggish economy.

Another important component of our “Better Way” plan is to ensure that doctors, hospitals, nurses and healthcare providers are allowed to freely exercise their conscience. We won’t force individuals to offer services that are against their beliefs. Just as important, our plan makes clear that no federal money can be used to perform abortions.

A major piece of our plan is built on spurring medical innovation and research. This includes removing barriers to collaboration and accelerating drug research and development. We do this by cutting down on regulations and red tape while also reforming the National Institutes of Health.

Finally, our plan protects and preserves Medicare. Our plan ends the raid on Medicare Advantage plans and ensures Medicare remains strong for today’s seniors. For the next generation, our plan makes reforms and offers new options to ensure Medicare continues to be a viable and fiscally sound option.

You can learn more about our “Better Way” plan for health care by visiting I encourage you to take a look at the plan and share your thoughts with me.

U.S. Rep. Bradley Byrne represents the 1st Congressional District of Alabama, which includes Escambia County.