District Connection - 10/31/16
In 2007, then Senator Obama said of his health care plan: “the only thing that will change for you under this plan is that the amount of money you will spend on premiums will be less.” Most of us knew back then that his statement was too good to be true, and now, we have proof. On Tuesday, the Obama Administration announced that Obamacare health insurance premiums for 2017 would increase by 25 percent on average across the nation. In Georgia, expect an average increase of 32 percent. But that pales in comparison to what’s happening in Oklahoma, where average premiums are expected to increase by over 75 percent. What’s more, deductibles for individuals on the lowest tier plans will average more than $6,000 in 2017, and for families, deductibles will average more than $12,300. That means Americans who are already working hard to make ends meet, pay the mortgage, and feed their families are going to find it harder to afford their health care next year.
And the financial toll that increased premium costs will have on American families isn’t the end of the story. With higher premiums come higher taxpayer subsidies. The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) estimates that more than 70 percent of individuals on the exchange are eligible for vast government subsidies. But that’s just a bandage on the wound. For millions of hard-working Americans, that means not only will they have to spend more money meeting their deductibles, but we’ll also have to deal with higher taxes and more debt in order to cover the costs of premium support. And there’s no guarantee that health costs will decrease any time soon. In fact, costs will likely continue to rise thanks to the influence of high cost therapies and very sick individuals who are now in the marketplace. When the top 5 percent of patients account for 49 percent of all health care expenditures, it’s clear to see that our current system simply isn’t a sustainable way forward.
The President’s health care plan is caught in a spiral of high costs and low expectations, but we can change that paradigm. In fact, House Republicans have already designed A Better Way to reform health care. I encourage you to take a look at this patient-centered alternative to Obamacare.
- CNBC. Obamacare deductibles are on the rise for 2017, along with monthly premiums
- ABC News. Why health care premiums are rising under Obamacare
- Time. 8 states where Obamacare rates are rising by at least 30 percent
I had the great pleasure last Monday of attending a great town hall event that was jointly hosted by the Job Creators Network (JCN) and the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce as part of the Bring Small Business Back (BSBB) tour. The JCN website captures one of our nation’s biggest economic problems – it says “too often, elected officials in Washington pass laws and regulations that create unnecessary hurdles for America’s small businesses and the jobs they create.” Luckily, the BSBB was created specifically to highlight those issues and to help business leaders come together to find solutions. And the great news is that we did talk about solutions.
Rep. Rob Woodall speaks with small business people during the Bring Small Businesses Back tour
Small businesses care about making our tax code fairer and simpler. They care about ensuring that our nation isn’t drowning in a pool of debt. They care about passing a real health care reform law that can control costs and increase coverage opportunities. They care about facilitating workable immigration and education reforms that will grow the pool of employees and small business owners in America. Our nation’s small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy and our communities, and I was proud to visit with so many of them and learn from them about how Washington can serve them better.
In order to maintain Georgia’s status as the economic capital of the South, we need top-notch multimodal transportation policy and clear lines of communication between federal, state, and local governments. That’s why I make it a priority, as the only Georgian on the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, to visit stakeholders in all corners of our state – including Savannah, Augusta, Atlanta, Columbus, Valdosta, Athens, and Dalton – to discuss transportation issues critical for our state with community leaders and to learn from their expertise. In the past year, the House has passed a major surface transportation law and the water resources development reauthorization, and there’s a lot to unpack in these two pieces of legislation. You can read in-depth summaries of the surface transportation bill and the water bill, but in short, these bills make sure that our ports continue to be among the best in the nation and that Georgians can get where they need to go as quickly and safely as possible. We can only succeed when leaders from all levels of government are working hand in hand to deliver the best possible products at the best possible price for taxpayers, and I’m committed to doing just that.
- Valdosta Daily Times. Congressman addresses transportation issues in Valdosta
- Online Athens. Georgia congressman briefs Athens forum on federal transportation bill
For millions of Americans, this time of year means one thing: open enrollment. Beginning tomorrow, open enrollment for Obamacare marketplace plans begins and runs through January 31st. If you’re eligible for Medicare, your open enrollment period began on October 15th and runs through December 7th. Nearly one-third of Medicare beneficiaries have chosen Medicare Advantage plans in the past, and this year, more Americans are expected to choose this option again.
I know how confusing open enrollment can be; from estimating your drug costs for next year to planning for elective surgeries or even planning for the unexpected, the choices can seem daunting. The good news is that there are myriad resources available online to help you make this important Medicare decision.
- Kaiser Health News. How to enroll in Medicare and avoid costly mistakes
- Huffington Post. 5 steps to keep you sane during Medicare open enrollment
- Orlando Sentinel. Choose wisely: 2017 Medicare guide
- CBS News. How to choose a Medicare Advantage health care plan
Member of Congress