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PRESS RELEASE: Heartland Experts React to Congress Pulling Obamacare Replacement Bill

March 24, 2017

"The Affordable Care Act has been disastrous for Americans, but the House Republican leadership’s American Health Care Act failed to provide the reforms to fix many of the health care system’s most significant problems." - Justin Haskins

stethoscope and insurance docs

This afternoon, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) pulled the American Health Care Act (AHCA) from the floor of Congress, citing lack of Republican support for the measure.

The following statements from health care policy experts at The Heartland Institute – a free-market think tank – may be used for attribution. For more comments, refer to the contact information below. To book a Heartland guest on your program, please contact New Media Specialist Billy Aouste at and 312/377-4000 or (cell) 847/445-7554.

“The House Freedom Caucus proved itself a formidable partner in negotiations on behalf of American patients eager for true health care reform.

“Don’t buy the false narrative that conservative members of Congress have held up reform. Keeping Obamacare’s regulatory structure was never on the table for conservatives. It’s time for Speaker Ryan to accept that conservatives won’t settle for watered-down health care reforms, even if that means repealing and replacing Obamacare through regular order instead of budget reconciliation.”

Michael Hamilton
Research Fellow, Health Care Policy
The Heartland Institute
Managing Editor, Health Care News

“The Affordable Care Act has been disastrous for Americans, but the House Republican leadership’s American Health Care Act failed to provide the reforms necessary to fix many of the health care system’s most significant problems. The decision to step back from the current version of the AHCA is the right one. Now, Republicans must work together to formulate a health care reform bill that will truly empower patients with vital free-market reforms while also permanently and completely repealing Obamacare. There has never been a better opportunity for Republicans to implement pro-liberty health care policies. It’s time to get the job done.”

Justin Haskins
Executive Editor
The Heartland Institute

“The failure of the health care bill was a major loss for conservatives and the free market. The bill was scored as cutting spending by $1.2 trillion, which was almost entirely entitlement spending (Obamacare and Medicaid). That would have been the largest reduction in entitlement spending in U.S., and consequently world, history. The bill would have cut taxes by close to $900 billion, making it one of the largest tax cuts in history. And the original bill would have cut the deficit by $337 billion, making it one of the largest cuts in the deficit and debt in world history.

“Passing on all of that, just because additional changes were desired in repealing Obamacare, was not reasoned.

“Republicans would have gained additional political momentum for further free-market reforms by passing this bill now, including for the further health policy reforms conservatives wanted. Now the whole Trump, pro-growth, free market agenda is set back by this loss of momentum, including tax reform, the Trump budget cuts, deregulation that requires legislation, and further health reforms.”

Peter Ferrara
Senior Fellow for Entitlement and Budget Policy
The Heartland Institute

“The failure of the American Health Care Act was not surprising; it was a rushed, flawed piece of legislation that fails to address many of the Affordable Care Act’s biggest problems.

“As unpopular as it may be, the guaranteed issue requirement does dramatically increase the cost of health insurance. Any reform plan needs to address this problem; the failure of the ACA exchanges to attract many insurers proves many companies cannot handle ACA mandates.

“One problem that has never been addressed by any reform plan is the disconnect between patients and the cost of care. Patients have no interest in shopping around for a better value because they never see the true cost of care. Putting health care dollars back in patients’ hands would improve competition and pricing. The AHCA failed to address this problem, and even pulled a requirement that allowed people to deposit surplus tax-credit funds in a health savings accounts (HSAs).”

Matthew Glans
Senior Policy Analyst
The Heartland Institute

“The decision by Paul Ryan to pull the AHCA bill is a good one, but it must be followed by developing a much better bill. The AHCA really is not a repeal of the ACA but a modification, and not a very deep one. It left untouched some of the deepest flaws of ACA. For example, there’s the prohibition on taking pre-existing conditions into account when an uninsured person decides to buy insurance. There’s also the absence of annual and lifetime caps on payouts. Never mind whether these are ‘fair’ or liked by many among the public, together these guarantee that insurance costs will rise uncontrollably and that insurance programs will eventually collapse from adverse selection. The comprehensive nature of coverage simply adds to the problem.

“One of the main drivers of increasing health care costs is insurance. Having all purchases of health care handled through insurance means patients have no way to make decisions about the benefits and costs of care, and no way to shop for good deals in health care. Decision making must be returned to the patient, on a free market for health care services. This cannot happen under schemes like ACA and AHCA, and requires that the Republicans rethink the entire approach to reform.

“One thing that I find disturbing is that the Republican leadership seems more beholden to the Senate filibuster rule than to the liberty of the American people, the Constitution, or the quality and affordability of our health care. The Democrats are behaving as complete obstructionists, and should they return to power with the basic framework of Obamacare in place, they’ll use it to take us all the way to fully socialized medicine. The Republicans should simply acknowledge this and get to work dismantling government intervention in health care.”

Charles N. Steele, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Economics, Hillsdale College
Policy Advisor, The Heartland Institute

The Heartland Institute is a 33-year-old national nonprofit organization headquartered in Arlington Heights, Illinois. Its mission is to discover, develop, and promote free-market solutions to social and economic problems. For more information, visit our Web site or call 312/377-4000.

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Health Care
Michael Hamilton writes and edits for the liberty-minded clients of Good Comma Editing, LLC, a freelance writing and editing company. @MikeFreeMarket
Justin Haskins is the Editorial Director and a Research Fellow at The Heartland Institute. @JustinTHaskins
Peter Ferrara, J.D., is a senior fellow at The Heartland Institute and an advisor for entitlement reform and budget policy at the National Tax Limitation Foundation.
Matthew Glans joined the staff of The Heartland Institute in November 2007 as legislative specialist for insurance and finance.
Charles N. Steele is an associate professor at Hillsdale College, where he holds the Herman and Suzanne Dettwiler Chair in Economics.

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