|Congressman Griffith's Weekly E-Newsletter 1.9.17
Monday, January 9, 2017 â€“
Every day brings new word of the damage Obamacare has inflicted on our healthcare system. As long as this law is on the books, it will diminish the quality, affordability, and choice of healthcare for everyday Americans.
In the seven years since Obamacare became law, the promises made by its creators have been broken. President Obama told us that we could keep our doctors. You canâ€™t always. President Obama told us we could keep our insurance if we liked it. You canâ€™t. Instead millions of Americans had their policies cancelled or significantly changed, and insurance carriers have fled the exchanges or the health insurance market completely.1
The system the Administration designed makes healthcare more expensive for most. Year after year, premiums have gone up by double digits. Deductibles have increased, and so have out-of-pocket costs. As a result, many people are actually significantly underinsured. The bad deal offered by Obamacare might explain why its actual enrollment is much lower than its projected enrollment.2
Obamacare is collapsing under its own weight. I expect new revelations of evidence of its collapse soon. For example, the House Energy and Commerce Committee that I serve on has subpoenaed numerous documents the Obama Administration has refused to turn over related to the fiscal health of Obamacare. I believe the incoming Administration will be more willing to turn over documents. The slow but sure collapse of Obamacare, whether you agree with it or not, is hurting American citizens. Not to repeal, replace, and reform the American healthcare system as it is currently in law under Obamacare would be malpractice.
The House of Representatives will act this year to replace Obamacare. The Energy and Commerce Committee will look at ideas to keep costs down and improve choice. Instead of the centralized, bureaucracy-focused model exemplified by Obamacare, we will work to deliver a 21st century healthcare system. But it will take several years for the health insurance industry to roll out new products. In the meantime, I believe the new Administration of President Trump will be able to make changes administratively that should slowdown or stop the escalating cost of insurance plans.
The Obamacare system must go, but not every item in the law must be tossed. In a two-thousand page bill, there are bound to be some good ideas. I support the changes made by the law to the Black Lung Benefits Act, and have sponsored a bill, H.R. 323, to keep them after Obamacare is gone.
Healthcare has gone through dramatic upheaval under Obamacare, and Congress ought not to add to the strain the law places on Americans. There must be a transition period for those who depend on the law. I believe a one- to two-year transition is appropriate, while others suggest a longer three- to five- year time frame. Our goal is to save health insurance for average American families, and each action we take will be done with that goal in mind.
I am optimistic about the outcome of our efforts to improve healthcare in this Congress. Obamacare was fatally flawed from the beginning. We now have a chance to try to get it right.
Update: Holman Rule
Last week, I wrote in this column about ways in which Congress can protect and better use its authority.
On its first day in session, the House passed a rules package that included the Holman Rule I had sought. Subsequently, liberals have acted like Chicken Little, claiming that the sky is falling. The Holman Rule is a scalpel, not an axe, and it will be used to promote efficiency in government.
It is not a power grab. The rule was in effect until 1983 and was not used in the way its detractors suggest. It falls under Congressâ€™ power of the purse, granted under the United States Constitution.
Further, public servants work for the people, and it is entirely appropriate for the people, through the representatives they elect, to determine their number and compensation. The outcry from the Left reminds me of Glinda the Good Witch in the movie version of The Wizard of Oz telling Dorothy about the Wicked Witch of the Westâ€™s demand for the ruby slippers: â€śTheir magic must be very powerful or she wouldnâ€™t want them so badly.â€ť
The power of the Holman Rule must be even greater at cutting spending than I imagined or the Democrats in Washington wouldnâ€™t want to put it back in the cupboard where Democratic Speaker of the House Tip Oâ€™Neill locked it away in 1983.
If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405 or my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at
1Among insurers that have left the health-insurance business completely are Principal Financial and Assurant Health.
2According to the American Action Forum, while Obamacare enrollment was supposed to be 21 million in 2016, actual enrollment was 10.4 million as of June 2016.