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Fleming: What patient-centered health care would look like

by Minden Press-Herald



We’ve heard it called “the craziest thing in the world.” That’s not a compliment, that’s a straight-up, honest opinion on Obamacare freely uttered by former Democrat President Bill Clinton. Obamacare, once heralded as our nation’s signature health care law, has rapidly self-destructed and left many Americans worse off than before.

As a family practice physician with a health care clinic in Minden, the delivery of quality medicine and timely care has been at the forefront of my career. In fact, reforming the American health system was a key factor in running for Congress in 2008. Patients deserve care; families deserve choice; and the government should respect our moral conscience, the very fiber of our existence.

Obamacare respected none of these core elements, and six and half years into the so-called Affordable Care Act, even the most loyal of supporters are beginning to acknowledge the warning signs.

It’s time to start over.

The ACA in its entirety has to go. Although we’ve been down this path before, even placing a repeal bill on the President’s desk, the very first action must be to pull up Obamacare by its roots. A successive secondary step will be to replace Obamacare with patient-centric, free-market principled guidelines that support the role of medical professionals, insurance companies, hospitals, and clinics.

Any health care overhaul will need the following components to truly work for all Americans.

First, it needs to put patients back in charge of their own care.

Throughout the health care debate over the past several years, I’ve fought against expanding the federal government’s control over people’s health care decisions. The best health care plan is the one that puts patients in charge of their own health by letting them make their own decisions about what they want and how they are going to pay for it.

I also introduced H.R. 3006, the HSA Health Care Choices Act to encourage Americans to plan and save for health care costs. Health savings accounts are a key aspect of patient-centered and market-based care.

Specifically, my legislation would increase the maximum contribution limit and allows an HSA to be used to purchase health insurance premiums, over the counter medications, and pre-paid physician fees. It also permits HSAs to be passed on to future generations as a tax-exempt account, and allows a beneficiary to pay for another’s medical expenses using an HSA. The HSA Health Care Choices Act also repeals several Obamacare provisions hampering tax-advantaged health accounts. I’m proud of this legislation and hope to see it up for a vote soon.

As a business owner I see how HSA’s could save on health care costs by encouraging individual patients to invest as consumers, which is the second need of any common-sense health care bill: affordability and choice. We want to bring consumer choice back into health care, and we want this to be a patient-centered plan where health care providers compete on price and quality and consumers can make valuable choices. In turn, this will bring health care costs down.

Additionally, we can make insurance premiums more affordable for everyone by allowing consumers to purchase insurance across state lines and encouraging – but not requiring – young healthy individuals to purchase health insurance.

This choice extends to Medicare programs such as Medicare Advantage. Seniors should be able to choose the benefits packages that best suit their needs too.

And lastly, for our next health care system to truly work for everyone, it must include conscience protections so that no one is forced to pay for abortions. Abortion takes innocent life, and those who believe it is morally wrong should not be coerced into supporting it by their government. This is also why the Senate needs to pass H.R. 7, the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion law to ensure federal dollars are never being used to pay for abortions.

I worked as a part of the Republican Study Committee Health Task Force to introduce a bill, the American Health Care Reform Act, that includes many of the same critical factors I’ve outlined above. It will create no new taxes or mandates, instead encouraging competitive markets to personalize and lower the cost of insurance coverage. It also encourages free market innovation and research to find cures to today’s more prevalent diseases.

The time has come to repeal Obamacare and replace it with common-sense health care that gives all Americans quality care they can afford.

Dr. John Fleming is Chairman of the Natural Resources Subcommittee on Water, Power and Oceans and is a member of the House Armed Services Committee. He is a physician, small business owner, and co-founder of the House Freedom Caucus. He represents the 4th Congressional District of Louisiana.

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