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BROUN: Obamacare’s regulatory nightmare

- - Friday, September 13, 2013

There is still time for a free-market alternative

Three years ago, President Obama touted his 2,700-page health care plan as the solution to our nation's health care needs. Promise after promise was made to the public: Obamacare will cut the cost of your health care. Obamacare will not increase the deficit. Obamacare will create jobs. Obamacare will allow you to keep your doctor and health plan if you like them.

Since that time, though, statistic after statistic have proven these statements false, causing the president's promises to fall flat. According to a report released by the Government Accountability Office, Obamacare will increase the long-term federal deficit by $6.2 trillion. Insurance premiums are expected to double on average in the individual market, while some rates may increase by more than 400 percent. Worst of all, numerous businesses are already cutting benefits for employees, leading the administration to publicly state on its health care website that Americans in fact might not get to keep the doctor they prefer.

Not only have these harsh realities struck fear and worry in both doctors and patients, but the president has demonstrated his own lack of faith in the law through the delay of the employer mandate, as well as a number of other delays. Time is running short, and on Oct. 1, Obamacare will begin to go into effect, raising premiums, cutting workers' hours, and driving up costs that will be added to our record deficit.

Fortunately, it doesn't have to be this way. Americans deserve health care that is accessible and affordable, while putting patients' needs first. That is why I have introduced H.R. 2900, the Patient Option Act, which will revitalize American health care and give the American people full control over their health care decisions. In contrast to Mr. Obama's 2,700-page regulatory nightmare, my Patient Option Act would make several important reforms to lower costs and increase the quality of care in just 77 pages. It will make health care less expensive for everyone, increase access to coverage for all Americans, and save Medicare from going broke.

First and foremost, my bill would rip Obamacare out by the roots and repeal it in full. It makes all health care expenses 100 percent tax deductible, and gives families the ability to purchase health insurance across state lines, increasing competition in the marketplace and naturally lowering costs. In addition, it will make it easier for groups to establish association health plans, which would allow small businesses and organizations to band together to negotiate lower costs for their employees or members.

The Patient Option Act will save Medicare from going broke by transitioning it to a flexible, premium-assistance system, where seniors will have full control over their own care, without the government setting policies and prices. Furthermore, it would block-grant Medicaid and Children's Health Insurance Program funds to the states, allowing states to fund the priorities and initiatives related to low-income health care that will work best for their own residents. It also will create tax incentives for physicians who provide care to patients who cannot afford to pay for health care, as well as a tax credit for donations to hospitals and clinics for indigent patient care. This will empower communities by rejecting the notion that the government must be the provider for those in need.

Unfortunately, in less than three weeks' time, American families and young adults will be paying the cost of Obamacare, while big business and big corporations will receive a break under Mr. Obama's employer-mandate delay. Various businesses are already bracing for the effects of Obamacare, some announcing that they will be dropping coverage for employees' spouses. At the same time, it is estimated that younger, healthier individuals will see their premiums increase by more than 40 percent. With the multitude of exemptions, delays and unexpected costs, it is clear that this law is not only unworkable and unaffordable, but it is downright unfair.

Americans deserve a health care law that is free of mandates, bureaucracy and hidden costs, and instead, focuses on delivering patient-centered care. The Patient Option Act offers just that, while tackling many of the fundamental problems associated with health care. We don't have much time, but through the voices of "we the People," Americans can work to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a solution that will empower Americans when it comes to making their own health care decisions. That solution is the Patient Option Act.

Rep. Paul C. Broun, a Republican member of Congress from Georgia, is a physician.