HUNTERDON CONGRESSMAN Lance Op-ed: Finding a health care replacement plan

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The first order of business for the new session of the House of Representatives was laying the groundwork for significant improvement to our Nation’s health care system.

Last week I supported the first ObamaCare repeal effort that will be sent to the President’s desk. This legislative package, the Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom Reconciliation Act, marks the first time a repeal plan has passed both the U.S. House and U.S. Senate and sets the stage for a new President to sign a new health care system into law in 2017.

Too often constituents come into my offices in New Jersey with stories of losing the doctors they know and trust, having plans that meet their personal health care needs canceled with little explanation or seeing their premiums rise to unaffordable levels.  These many residents and countless other Americans across the country have demanded a plan that creates patient-centric solutions that lower health care costs, protect jobs and allow patients to keep their doctors and their health care if they like them.  And the House action effectively repeals mandates and taxes at the very heart of the law and saves taxpayers nearly one-half trillion dollars over the next decade according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office.  These are major priorities of the American people and critical for the sustainability of our economy.

This action spurs a conversation. By putting a bill on the House Floor, the issue is back on the radar screen of presidential and federal candidates of both parties: what will each candidate do if elected and how will his or her plans enable people to gain coverage and keep it affordable?

I support a replacement plan that puts the patient in charge, not Washington, and reduces health care costs and increases access to affordable, high-quality care. By instituting Health Savings Accounts, Independent Health Pools and Association Health Plans called for in the bill we could deliver significant coverage options and economic incentives that will encourage people to purchase coverage – without the government mandated elements that many have found excessive and unaffordable.

And this plan would create parity between the individual and large group markets and permit the purchase of insurance across state lines, which boosts competition and drives down costs. Americans should have the freedom to buy health insurance from any provider.

A meaningful proposal must ensure no one can be denied coverage based on a pre-existing condition and enforce other strong consumer protections such as prohibiting insurance companies from imposing lifetime limits on consumers and ensuring that sick patients are able to renew their coverage.  I also support providing a refundable tax credit for the most vulnerable consumers to buy health coverage or health care services of their choosing, which would encourage competition and steer these customers away from expensive insurance Washington forces them to buy. And dependents up to age 26 should be able to stay on their parents’ plan.

To be clear, there is more work that needs to be done to make full repeal and replacement a reality, but our congressional efforts recently provide important momentum to help make that a reality in 2017.