AHCA is better for America

Published 12:02 am Wednesday, May 10, 2017

By Rep. Bradley Byrne

The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, is failing the American people by driving up costs and limiting options for families.

President (Donald) Trump and the Republican-controlled Congress have pledged to make repealing and replacing Obamacare a top priority.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Well, we had a major breakthrough last week when the House passed the American Health Care Act. I voted in support of this legislation to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a system that gets the federal government out of the way.

Americans deserve an accessible and affordable health care system that promotes quality care and peace of mind. Rather than top down, one-size-fits-all insurance plans mandated by the government, we need innovation and competition in our health insurance market to drive down costs for families.

That is exactly what the American Health Care Act does. The bill repeals the individual and employer mandate penalties to allow workers, families and employers greater flexibility to find health care plans that actually work for them. For low and middle-income families who do not receive health insurance through a government program or their employer, the bill offers monthly tax credits to help purchase affordable coverage.

The core focus of the American Health Care Act is to drive down costs and repair damage done to the overall insurance markets by Obamacare. Beginning in 2018, the bill provides immediate funding to help calm the individual market and lower premiums.

Specifically, the bill contains a premium stability program modeled after the successful program enacted in Maine. In Maine, individuals in their 20s saw premium savings of nearly $5,000 per year and individuals in their 60s saw savings of more than $7,000 a year.

As premiums dropped, younger and healthier individuals entered the market. This increased total enrollment in Maine and saved their citizens thousands of dollars a year on their health insurance. Such savings are in stark contrast to what we have seen under Obamacare.

Our commonsense bill also reforms health savings accounts (HSA) to make it easier for families to save for medical care. Even more, the bill fundamentally reforms Medicaid and cuts about one trillion dollars in taxes.

Some in the liberal media have attempted to distort the truth about the American Health Care Act in an effort to protect Obamacare, so I want to clear up some of the misinformation.

First, the bill specifically prohibits insurance companies from denying coverage to anyone with pre-existing conditions. The bill also continues to require insurance companies to allow young adults up to the age of 26 to stay on their parents’ insurance, maintains the ban on lifetime or annual limits, and prevents insurance companies from charging women more than men.

The House also passed a bill making crystal clear that every provision of the American Health Care Act will apply to Members of Congress and our staff. Members of Congress should not be held to a different standard than other Americans.

In a victory for those of us who are pro life, the bill blocks government funding of any kind from going to Planned Parenthood and redirects that funding to community health centers, which are much more plentiful and do not provide abortion services.

I thoroughly read and analyzed the American Health Care Act before voting in favor of it on May 4. Passing this bill is a huge step toward fixing our health care system and rescuing the American people.

The bill now moves over to the Senate, where it will likely undergo additional changes. I look forward to following the process as it moves forward, and I encourage you to do the same.

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