ICYMI: Hawley Op-Ed: Missourians deserve quality health care at affordable prices

Missourians deserve quality health care at affordable prices

Springfield News-Leader
Josh Hawley

This last winter my wife and I got a piece of news no parent wants to hear. One of our boys—we have two, one in kindergarten and another in preschool—has a rare condition that can lead to degeneration of his joints. The months since have been a journey for our family, and it’s far from over. But I’ll say this: when parents around Missouri come up to me and say they’re frightened because they can’t afford their health insurance, I get where they’re coming from.

They should be frightened. And they should be angry.

Nine years ago, Claire McCaskill and her liberal allies forced through a massive bureaucratic takeover of American healthcare. McCaskill told us that if we liked our healthcare plans, we could keep them. She said the cost of health insurance would go down. She said prescription drug prices would fall.

She lied.

Since then, millions of Americans have lost their healthcare plans. Healthcare premiums have more than doubled. Prescription drug prices are off the charts. And family after family can’t afford their healthcare bills.

Meanwhile, the insurance companies are posting massive profits, thanks in part to open-ended payments from the federal government using our tax dollars.

Claire McCaskill had the chance to back reforms that made healthcare more affordable, covered pre-existing conditions, provided more insurance options, and lowered drug prices. She could have strengthened Medicare for our seniors, reformed and improved Medicaid services for the poor, and held health insurance companies accountable.

But she didn’t.

Instead, she went along with her party and gave us the big government-big insurance collusion scheme called Obamacare.

Now, while Missouri parents struggle to survive the crisis McCaskill and her partisan allies created, her response is to tell us to start liking it. She says we have to accept skyrocketing costs—and insurance company profits—or lose critical coverage for family members with pre-existing conditions, like my son.

Missouri deserves better than that. And we can do better, for those with preexisting conditions, for young adults, for the elderly, and for everyone who counts on quality healthcare every day.

The President and Congress took an important first step by scrapping Obamacare’s individual mandate. Now it’s time to empower families and consumers. We can start by ending the sweetheart deals for big insurance companies and force them to compete for our business across state lines. That will improve service and decrease prices. Insurers should also be required to cover individuals with preexisting conditions and young people on their parents’ insurance, up to age 26.

Next, we need to break up the big government-big insurance axis. Let states—not just DC bureaucrats—regulate insurance companies and set coverage mandates. Eliminate the one-size-fits-all dictates from Washington. Plans for women, for example, shouldn’t have to cover prostate exams. Allow states to give consumers more insurance options, tailored to different needs, so families and individuals can find a plan they actually want at a price they can afford.

Americans should also be allowed to pool our purchasing power. Let our families, our churches and associations, our unions and non-profits join together in association health plans. We already live together, pray together, work together, farm together—we should be able to buy healthcare together. Nobody should be left to fight the insurance companies alone.

While we are at it, let’s lower prescription drug prices by holding Big Pharma accountable and cracking down on their schemes to slow generic drug approvals. Fix the FDA bureaucracy and accelerate approval of generics, and new drugs too. We also need to take a hard look at the bad trade deals that let foreign governments pay less for prescription drugs and shift research and development costs to Americans.

Here’s the bottom line. Missourians deserve quality care at prices we can afford. More than that, Missourians deserve to have their government put them first, not big insurance, not the bureaucrats, and not party.

For too long, Claire McCaskill has let her partisanship get in the way of solutions. She has sided with Big Pharma and the insurance lobby over Missouri families. She has cared more about the political legacy of Barack Obama than getting better healthcare for the people of our state. Enough of that. The current system, her system, is indefensible. Let’s fix it, and let’s fix it right now.