The Laudable Pursuit: An Obamacare Repeal Update

Senator Mike Lee
2017-05-12 13:57:50
May 12, 2017 "to elevate the condition of men--to lift artificial weights from all shoulders, to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all, to afford all an unfettered start and a fair chance, in the race of life." --Abraham Lincoln Chairman's Note: An Obamacare Repeal Update This week a working group of United States senators began meeting on a bi-weekly basis to reach a consensus on how to repeal and replace Obamacare. We are still very early in the process but it is clear already that there is much work to be done before we can find the votes needed to reform our failing health care system. The first topic the group focused on was rolling back Obamacare's Medicaid expansion, a program that has given insurance cards to 11 million able bodied adults without kids at a cost of $64 billion a year without improving their actual health care outcomes. Conservatives in the room have three big priorities when it comes to Medicaid reform: 1) ending the enhanced federal spending on Medicaid expansion recipients; 2) setting an inflation rate for the per capita allotment that is fiscally responsible; and 3) increasing the flexibility of states to best provide quality health care for the low-income and vulnerable populations in their state. Unfortunately, the House health care bill concedes that states will continue to receive federal Medicaid dollars for the new expansion population. This categorical expansion is already a huge concession and should, at the very least, be part of a program reform that grows at a low rate closely resembling historical growth. That is why many of my colleagues and I want to put the reformed per capita allotment Medicaid program on a sustainable fiscal path with a growth rate of CPI-U. Conservatives in the room have three big priorities when it comes to Medicaid reform: 1) ending the enhanced federal spending on Medicaid expansion recipients; 2) setting an inflation rate for the per capita allotment that is fiscally responsible; and 3) increasing the flexibility of states to best provide quality health care for the low-income and vulnerable populations in their state. Hopefully we will be able to also include additional flexibility for states to innovate and adopt new mechanisms that serve the unique needs of each state's vulnerable populations. The health care working group also addressed the individual insurance market, where conservatives pushed to repeal as many of Obamacare's insurance regulations as possible. The Obamacare regulations drive up the cost of health care the most. They force insurers to cover everyone at the same price without respect to age, gender, or health status--even if these customers use drastically different amounts of health care each year or if they wait to purchase coverage until they fall ill. Another major regulation forces insurers to pay for an expansive list of "essential health benefits," even when the customer doesn't need or want to pay for that coverage. Finally, another burdensome regulation tightly dictates how much insurers must pay out on each health care plan. All of these regulations have driven up the price of premiums by 100 percent nationwide--in some places monthly premiums cost more than someone's mortgage. Conservatives would like to clear the books of Obamacare's most costly regulations and free the states to regulate their markets how they wish-even if that means re-applying these regulations to their market. Should this not be possible, we should at the very least give states the ability to choose which Obamacare regulations they do or do not want to keep. All states would start off without any of these federal health insurance regulations and then they would be able to pick and choose which ones they wanted to keep. After the debate in the House, it is no longer news that the differences between the moderates and conservatives in the Republican Party on health care policy are substantial. It is unclear right now whether they can be bridged. But my colleagues and I will keep trying. We will keep meeting every week to hash out our differences and find common ground until we get something done that will lower premiums for millions of Americans while strengthening our safety net programs for those who truly need them. Restoring Trust in the FBI Click here to watch video Issue in Focus: Bringing Higher Education into the 21st Century Over the past 20 years, the price of wireless service has fallen 46 percent, the price of software has fallen 68 percent, the price of televisions has fallen 96 percent, and the quality of these services and technologies has improved markedly. But over that same time, the price of college tuition has risen 199 percent, and most parents would agree that the quality has not greatly improved. But if prices typically fall as competition spurs quality advancement, as seen by the technological achievement of the last two decades, how has that not happened in education? There is no one simple answer to this question, but the different regulatory environment facing higher education is a significant factor. One-hundred years ago, there were six regional, voluntary, non-governmental institutions that helped universities and secondary schools coordinate curricula, degrees, and transfer credits. These institutions had no power to prevent the creation of higher education institutions. This changed with the 1952 GI Bill. After congressional investigators found thousands of sham colleges were created overnight to take advantage of the benefits provided in the first 1944 GI Bill, the federal government turned these voluntary institutions into accreditors. As the federal government steadily ramped up its financial support for higher education benefits, it continued outsourcing the vetting of higher education institutions to these regional accreditors. This make-shift system worked well for decades, but in recent years these regional accreditors have come under heavy criticism for both lax oversight over some online institutions and a heavy hand in killing some promising innovations. No regulator is ever going to be perfect, but if they are going to be gatekeepers for a sector of the economy as important as higher education they must be transparent and accountable to the American people. Unfortunately, our nation's regional accreditors are neither. They do not share how they make their accrediting decisions with anyone and their board members do not face accountability at the ballot box. This needs to change. That is why I have introduced the Higher Education Reform and Opportunity Act. This bill would allow states to create their own accreditation system for institutions that want to be eligible for federal financial aid dollars. Each state could then be as open or closed to higher education innovation as they saw fit. They could even stick with their current regional accreditors if they chose to do so. But they could also enable innovators like Purdue University President Mitch Daniels, who recently signed a deal with the online provider Kaplan University, to go even further in their mission to expand higher education access to those who had limited access before. Our higher education system should not be held captive to 100 year-old institutions that were never intended to be regulatory gatekeepers in the first place. Instead we should allow those communities that want to experiment with higher education policy the freedom and accountability to do so. Washington, D.C. Office 361A Russell Senate Office Building Washington, D.C., 20510 Phone: 202.224.5444 Fax: 202.228.1168 Salt Lake City Wallace F. Bennett Federal Building 125 South State, Suite 4225 Salt Lake City, UT 84138 Phone: 801.524.5933 Fax: 801.524.5730 St. George Office of Senator Michael S. Lee 285 West Tabernacle, Suite 200 St. George, UT 84770 Phone: 435.628.5514 This message was intended for: xxx You were added to the system October 2, 2015. For more information please follow the URL below: newsletter.senate.gov/p/isF2osd2Nk Follow the URL below to update your preferences or opt-out: newsletter.senate.gov/p/osF2osd2Nk To unsubscribe from future mailings, send an email to mailto:xxx?Subject=Unsubscribe&body=Please%20remove%20me%20from%20further%20mailings with "Unsubscribe" as the subject line.
May 12, 2017

"to elevate the condition of men--to lift artificial weights from all shoulders, to clear the paths of laudable pursuit for all, to afford all an unfettered start and a fair chance, in the race of life." --Abraham Lincoln

Chairman's Note: An Obamacare Repeal Update

This week a working group of United States senators began meeting on a bi-weekly basis to reach a consensus on how to repeal and replace Obamacare. We are still very early in the process but it is clear already that there is much work to be done before we can find the votes needed to reform our failing health care system.
 
The first topic the group focused on was rolling back Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, a program that has given insurance cards to 11 million able bodied adults without kids at a cost of $64 billion a year without improving their actual health care outcomes.
 
Conservatives in the room have three big priorities when it comes to Medicaid reform: 1) ending the enhanced federal spending on Medicaid expansion recipients; 2) setting an inflation rate for the per capita allotment that is fiscally responsible; and 3) increasing the flexibility of states to best provide quality health care for the low-income and vulnerable populations in their state.
 
Unfortunately, the House health care bill concedes that states will continue to receive federal Medicaid dollars for the new expansion population.  This categorical expansion is already a huge concession and should, at the very least, be part of a program reform that grows at a low rate closely resembling historical growth.  That is why many of my colleagues and I want to put the reformed per capita allotment Medicaid program on a sustainable fiscal path with a growth rate of CPI-U.

"Conservatives in the room have three big priorities when it comes to Medicaid reform: 1) ending the enhanced federal spending on Medicaid expansion recipients; 2) setting an inflation rate for the per capita allotment that is fiscally responsible; and 3) increasing the flexibility of states to best provide quality health care for the low-income and vulnerable populations in their state."

Hopefully we will be able to also include additional flexibility for states to innovate and adopt new mechanisms that serve the unique needs of each state’s vulnerable populations.

The health care working group also addressed the individual insurance market, where conservatives pushed to repeal as many of Obamacare’s insurance regulations as possible.
 
The Obamacare regulations drive up the cost of health care the most. They force insurers to cover everyone at the same price without respect to age, gender, or health status--even if these customers use drastically different amounts of health care each year or if they wait to purchase coverage until they fall ill. Another major regulation forces insurers to pay for an expansive list of “essential health benefits," even when the customer doesn't need or want to pay for that coverage. Finally, another burdensome regulation tightly dictates how much insurers must pay out on each health care plan. All of these regulations have driven up the price of premiums by 100 percent nationwide--in some places monthly premiums cost more than someone's mortgage.
 
Conservatives would like to clear the books of Obamacare’s most costly regulations and free the states to regulate their markets how they wish—even if that means re-applying these regulations to their market.  Should this not be possible, we should at the very least give states the ability to choose which Obamacare regulations they do or do not want to keep. All states would start off without any of these federal health insurance regulations and then they would be able to pick and choose which ones they wanted to keep.
 
After the debate in the House, it is no longer news that the differences between the moderates and conservatives in the Republican Party on health care policy are substantial. It is unclear right now whether they can be bridged.
 
But my colleagues and I will keep trying. We will keep meeting every week to hash out our differences and find common ground until we get something done that will lower premiums for millions of Americans while strengthening our safety net programs for those who truly need them.

Restoring"Trust in the FBI

Click here to watch video

Issue in Focus: Bringing Higher Education into the 21st Century

Over the past 20 years, the price of wireless service has fallen 46 percent, the price of software has fallen 68 percent, the price of televisions has fallen 96 percent, and the quality of these services and technologies has improved markedly. But over that same time, the price of college tuition has risen 199 percent, and most parents would agree that the quality has not greatly improved.
 
But if prices typically fall as competition spurs quality advancement, as seen by the technological achievement of the last two decades, how has that not happened in education?
 
There is no one simple answer to this question, but the different regulatory environment facing higher education is a significant factor.
 
One-hundred years ago, there were six regional, voluntary, non-governmental institutions that helped universities and secondary schools coordinate curricula, degrees, and transfer credits. These institutions had no power to prevent the creation of higher education institutions.
 
This changed with the 1952 GI Bill. After congressional investigators found thousands of sham colleges were created overnight to take advantage of the benefits provided in the first 1944 GI Bill, the federal government turned these voluntary institutions into accreditors.
 
As the federal government steadily ramped up its financial support for higher education benefits, it continued outsourcing the vetting of higher education institutions to these regional accreditors.
 
This make-shift system worked well for decades, but in recent years these regional accreditors have come under heavy criticism for both lax oversight over some online institutions and a heavy hand in killing some promising innovations.
 
No regulator is ever going to be perfect, but if they are going to be gatekeepers for a sector of the economy as important as higher education they must be transparent and accountable to the American people. Unfortunately, our nation’s regional accreditors are neither. They do not share how they make their accrediting decisions with anyone and their board members do not face accountability at the ballot box.
 
This needs to change.
 
That is why I have introduced the Higher Education Reform and Opportunity Act. This bill would allow states to create their own accreditation system for institutions that want to be eligible for federal financial aid dollars.
 
Each state could then be as open or closed to higher education innovation as they saw fit. They could even stick with their current regional accreditors if they chose to do so. But they could also enable innovators like Purdue University President Mitch Daniels, who recently signed a deal with the online provider Kaplan University, to go even further in their mission to expand higher education access to those who had limited access before.
 
Our higher education system should not be held captive to 100 year-old institutions that were never intended to be regulatory gatekeepers in the first place. Instead we should allow those communities that want to experiment with higher education policy the freedom and accountability to do so.

Washington, D.C. Office
361A Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, D.C., 20510
Phone: 202.224.5444
Fax: 202.228.1168
Salt Lake City
Wallace F. Bennett Federal Building
125 South State, Suite 4225
Salt Lake City, UT 84138
Phone: 801.524.5933
Fax: 801.524.5730
St. George
Office of Senator Michael S. Lee
285 West Tabernacle, Suite 200
St. George, UT 84770
Phone: 435.628.5514



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