Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price put out a video Thursday detailing the problems in the U.S. health care system and his commitment to improving health care for “all Americans.”
Price has yet to say which Republican Obamacare replacement package the Trump administration is throwing its weight behind, but he hinted that lawmakers are “getting very, very close,” to finalizing a plan. The secretary’s comments in Thursday’s video illustrate the administration’s commitment to repealing and replacing Obamacare.
Price promises that HHS is “working tirelessly to improve the health and well-being of all Americans.” To accomplish that goal, “we must have an open and honest discussion about how you and your fellow citizens are being treated.” Obamacare is failing to accomplish its promise of making health care more affordable, the secretary explained. “You were promised more choices and better, quality insurance,” Price said.
Instead of making care more affordable and less expensive, the law is “harming patients and jeopardizing access to quality, affordable healthcare.”
The Obama Administration announced in late October of last year that insurance premiums would rise by the double-digit percentages in 2017. Premiums will increase at an average of 25 percent across the 39 states serviced by the online marketplace healthcare.gov. Around 20 percent of consumers, or one in five, will only have one insurer to choose from in the marketplace.
Even consumers who get health insurance through their employers are getting hit with higher costs. Out-of-pocket costs for workers under employer health plans are growing at a faster rate than payments from insurers to cover health care costs.
Prescription drug prices have also skyrocketed in the last half-decade, increasing at rates as high 400 percent in some cases. Americans spend, on average, $858 on prescription drugs. Overall, health care costs, from the price of prescription drugs to doctors appointments, rose the most in August than any other time since 1984.
Exorbitant out-of-pocket costs and rising premiums means “real money” is being taken out of a family’s budget, Price said. “Money that you no longer have to put towards a car or a college education or to pay the rent, or to cover basic day-to-day necessities,” Price said.
The way the current health care system works presents serious problems for millions of Americans. “When you can’t afford to see the doctor or get the treatments that you need, that insurance card in your wallet or purse, for which you are paying more and more, is worth less and less,” Price said. Essentially, the system is “not working for patients who need quality, affordable care.”
Opponents of repealing Obamacare often tout that between 18 and 20 million Americans will lose health coverage of the law is repealed. “It’s crystal clear that the Republican effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act will increase health care costs for millions of Americans and kick millions more off of their health insurance,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement.
House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi eluded that Democrats could come to some sort of compromise if Republicans are able to offer some real, tangible solutions. “If they come up with something that keeps lower costs, expanding coverage and increasing benefits, then we can have something to talk about,” Pelosi said.
Price states that both the president and those at HHS are taking “every action” within their means “to provide immediate relief” as they figure out effective “solutions.” The final platform for replacing Obamacare will “empower patients” and “return control of your personal healthcare decisions to you.” The new plan will keep “protections for those who have a pre-existing illness or injury and make sure that nobody is left behind,” a chief concern for consumers and one of the widely supported features of Obamacare.
Lawmakers are in a “prime position,” to “work together and to put you in charge of your healthcare,” Price explains in the video. Republicans lawmakers, however, are finding little to no consensus on the best way to go about a repeal effort.
At the same time, the majority is experiencing a great deal of pressure from their constituents to both push forward with Obamacare repeal, and to stop the repeal effort entirely — further compounding the problem.
Despite the lack of consensus, Price said optimistically that, “President Trump and I look forward to working with you to do just that.”
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