Opinion: John James: Let's make the ACA actually affordable
It’s time people told the truth about the Affordable Care Act — for hundreds of millions of Americans, it’s not affordable. One survey last year found that since 2009, wages have gone up 26% while deductibles have soared 162% in the same timeframe. There are people whose monthly premiums are higher than their mortgages. Some families pay almost $30,000 in medical costs per year just to cover their families. The median household income in Michigan was $75,703 in 2019. That would be nearly half their income. It’s not affordable.
But Sen. Gary Peters wouldn’t know that. Peters is part of an exclusive gold-plated, taxpayer funded plan. Peters is so afraid of his elitist plan being discovered, he lied about it to media, amended his financial disclosures and refuses to talk about his plan. Peters doesn’t seem to realize or doesn’t seem to care how much health care costs for everyone else.
I do. I run a business. I provide health care to my employees and their families. And I am on the same health care plan that they are. I have been very clear about the changes I would make to the Affordable Care Act.
First, the plan needs to be patient-centered so doctors and patients make the decisions, not bureaucrats. The Affordable Care Act made health care more centralized and allows bureaucrats to dictate what treatments and medications people get.
Second, we need to keep protection for people with pre-existing conditions. This is something I have consistently said and we can do it. I will insist on legislation that includes these protections. And we can make the market accept this. It’s non-negotiable. We can do it several ways. We can use risk pools and reinsurance. We can expand risk pools across state lines. We can also make it easier for small businesses to form association plans.
All are ways to mitigate costs and prevent adverse selection. We can also increase transparency and encourage competition to help lower prices and improve quality of care. We need to ensure people have true choice of health care. While the Affordable Care Act has caused prices to go up, options have gone down. Michigan has gone from a high of 13 exchange options to eight.
Third, people cannot be afraid to go to their doctor. Michigan residents shouldn’t have to ration their care. There needs to be a greater focus on wellness and we should encourage doctor visits. I would support the Primary Care Patient Protection Act, a bill that would require high-deductible health plans to include a set of primary care visits each year without the consumer having to pick up the cost or co-pay.
We can make the Affordable Care Act actually affordable. That’s the major flaw and that’s why we’ve seen Democrats try to demonize anyone who wants to make it better.
My plan is to make the Affordable Care Act affordable. Last year, health insurance costs paid by employers surpassed $20,000 per year, in the U.S., hitting a new record. The average worker is now contributing $6,000 a family to their health care — and that’s not including co-pays or deductibles or other costs — that’s just the cost of the plan. I’m an employer working hard to provide insurance that my employees can afford and I know how the Affordable Care Act raises prices, limits quality and takes away decisions from you and your doctor.
Peters doesn’t know what health care costs are because his own health care plan is funded by you — the taxpayer — and he does not have the same limitations. Peters is on the gold standard health care plan, and the problems in your plan are for you to figure out. Bottom Line: What good is it to have a plan if you can’t control it, the coverage sucks, and you can’t afford it? I want to make the unaffordable care act affordable. I want to fix Obamacare. Peters just wants to get re-elected.
We need new leadership who will take care of the rest of us. We can make the Affordable Care Act affordable.
John James, Republican candidate for U.S. Senate, is a former captain in the U.S. Army and currently serves as president of James Group International, a Detroit-based automotive logistics company.