This week marks seven years since Obamacare was signed into law. Leading up to the passage of the 2,700-page legislation, U.S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) announced: “We have to pass the bill so that you can find out what is in it.” Although much has been made of Pelosi’s dismissive remarks, it’s true that it took years for Obamacare to take root. The prognosis is now painfully clear: Obamacare is failing Georgia.
Over the past seven years, the federal government has imposed mandate after mandate to socialize our health care system. In fact, several thousand pages of regulations have been issued to support its misguided directives.
Along with the billions of dollars in tax increases shouldered by consumers, the law has failed to keep its promises. Year after year, our families are subjected to double-digit premium increases, with rising deductibles and increasingly fewer choices. In my hometown of Gainesville, the insurance market has seen annual premiums rise by up to 22 percent. Obamacare has ultimately led to a deteriorating health care system and runaway costs.
Under its restrictive requirements, small businesses have been penalized – and even threatened with bankruptcy. I often hear from small business owners who’ve been forced to shift full-time employees to part-time schedules or reduce their wages to comply with Obamacare’s complex web of regulations.
Is it fair to harm the very people who are driving our economic engines? We should be incentivizing entrepreneurs to grow jobs, giving more people opportunities to climb up the economic ladder – not penalizing the small businesses who are creating new jobs in our communities.
We have a monumental opportunity to reform our health care system.
As we plan for the future, we must put our patients first by repealing and replacing Obamacare.
For Georgia to build a free market health care system that truly works for our state, we must bring this debate outside the beltway of Washington, D.C.
In January, I brought together members of our state Senate to create Georgia’s Health Care Reform Task Force.
Our goal is to take advantage of freedom from the federal government to promote a more sustainable system that meets the needs of Georgians – at prices we can all afford.
As our work unfolds, we will focus on addressing three major elements:
First, we’ll reform Medicaid so it serves as a springboard rather than a landing pad. That means empowering more people with opportunities to become self-sufficient and obtain better jobs with higher salaries. Our Medicaid enrollees must also have primary care physicians to get the preventative care they need to stay healthy.
Second, I am committed to ensuring that those with pre-existing conditions have access to quality care. We have to make certain Georgia has a balanced insurance market so no matter where you call home, you can afford the care you deserve.
Finally, by exercising both new and existing waivers, we will control costs and inspire new delivery models that best serve every region of our state. Whether you get insurance through an employer or buy it on your own – all Georgians should have access to affordable, high-quality health care. We will stay true to our core principles of fiscal responsibility and we will achieve true conservative health care reform.
My hope is for the state of Georgia to be recognized as a national leader in pioneering innovative solutions, which strengthen the doctor-patient relationship and guide everyone to live healthier lives.
Mr. Cagle, a Republican and former state senator, was elected lieutenant governor of Georgia in 2006 and has held the office since early 2007.