A better way to fix health care

Almost eight years ago, President Obama announced a health care reform plan that he said would meet three basic goals: provide more security and stability to those who already had health insurance, guarantee coverage for the uninsured and slow the growth of health care costs. Selling this plan as a "moderate solution" to improve our nation's health care system, he said he had "no doubt that these reforms would greatly benefit Americans from all walks of life."

Looking back on these words today, it's hard to believe they were used so confidently describe the train wreck that Obamacare has become. This sweeping law full of crushing regulations and burdensome mandates has accomplished exactly the opposite of what President Obama naively promised while shattering the confidence of millions Americans in the process. In fact, "If you like your health care plan, you can keep it" was rated as the lie of the year by PolitiFact — certainly not the kind of hope and change America signed up for.

For years, the president and his liberal counterparts dismissed Obamacare's disappointments as minor hiccups that could be easily fixed, scoffing at Republicans who warned that these mounting failures reflected flaws deep at the law's core. But as time goes on, its negative outcomes are continuing to expose themselves, becoming increasingly drastic each year. In the past few months, major insurance companies have continued to pull out of the federal exchanges – including UnitedHealth and Aetna, who dropped out in Texas. This drastic drop-out trend has left five states with only one provider to choose from — if you can even call this a choice at all. And 10 times more Americans will have just one Obamacare health insurance provider to choose from next year than in this year. Fewer choices means higher costs.

Over the past few weeks, our worst fears came true when it was confirmed that Obamacare prices are now skyrocketing at faster rates than ever before. Next year, the price of the average midlevel Obamacare plan on the federal exchange will increase by a whopping 25 percent.

And in Texas, some rate increases approved by the Obama administration will rise as much as 70 percent. For American families, these premium hikes translate to hundreds of dollars each month that they won't be able to put toward their children's college education, making sure there's food on the table, or covering their utility bills.

As more bad news unfolds, it's no surprise that even lifelong Democrats have publicly voiced their criticism, with Bill Clinton recently calling Obamacare "the craziest thing in the world" and Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton proclaiming that Obamacare is "no longer affordable."

But what is more troubling, however, is the fact that many lawmakers still believe that Obamacare just needs is a few minor fixes to work. I couldn't disagree more. All the tweaks in the world can't repair a law based on the fundamentally flawed principle that the American health care system needs more overreach from Washington.

We are now watching Obamacare begin to collapse under its own weight. But luckily, there's a better way to meet our nation's health care needs — a strategy that won't leave Americans with higher costs and fewer choices. My fellow House Republicans and I have laid out a specific plan made up of sensible, patient-centered solutions. A plan that allows folks to take insurance from job to job, gives small businesses more leverage to negotiate better rates, and allows health insurance to be sold across state lines. Through these conservative reforms, we can establish sustainable health care policies that put the American people, not bureaucrats, back in charge.

For more information on the House Republican plan on health care, check out Better.GOP.

John Ratcliffe

U.S. representative, R-Texas