Roby: Spikes in health care costs concern Alabamians

Oct 11, 2016
Op-Eds
By Congresswoman Martha Roby, Montgomery Advertiser

It was great to be back on the road recently making several visits around Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District, with community and civic club meetings in Enterprise, Opp, Andalusia, Union Springs, Eufaula and Montgomery. Meeting face-to-face with constituents and listening to their concerns helps me be a stronger voice in Washington on the issues that matter to Alabamians.

There is certainly no shortage of issues, from the economy and job creation to national security and the threat of terrorism. One issue that has many Alabamians and many Americans very concerned is the rising cost of health care. Insurance premiums continue to rise, in some cases pretty drastically, making it difficult for families to afford health care coverage and pay for other normal expenses.

It is increasingly clear that the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, has actually made health care more expensive for many middle class families. This major national problem had largely been overshadowed by other news in recent months, but that all changed when former President Bill Clinton candidly laid out some of the biggest frustrations with Obamacare to an Ohio audience.

"So you've got this crazy system,” the former president said, “where all of a sudden 25 million more people have health care and then the people who are out there busting it, sometimes 60 hours a week, wind up with their premiums doubled and their coverage cut in half. It's the craziest thing in the world."

While he tried to walk back the gaffe in an attempt at “damage control,” his words ring true with many working Americans who have faced these expensive rate increases. According to health care policy advocate and researcher Avik Roy, median insurance premiums have almost doubled in the four years since Obamacare went into effect.

Over the last six years, I have supported several legislative efforts to scrap this ill-conceived health care law. Not surprisingly, President Obama has blocked any attempt to repeal or meaningfully amend his signature legislative achievement. Earlier this year, he followed through on his promise to veto Obamacare repeal legislation, and Congress subsequently lacked the votes to override the veto.

As I shared recently, being unable to deliver change on an issue that is negatively impacting my constituents is frustrating. However, looking ahead, I believe it is important to be more vocal in discussing conservatives’ policy vision for replacing Obamacare, rather than stopping short at the need to repeal it. I've generally offered my colleague Rep. Tom Price's plan as a good place to start to replacing Obamacare. Tom is a physician who has been working on this issue for some time. His plan is a more patient-centered approach that lowers costs through more competition in the marketplace, more common sense in regulations and more savings in the form of tax credits for consumers.

I’ll be discussing these and other policy ideas on the road again this week. You can follow my district travel on social media via Facebook, Twitter and now Instagram.

Martha Roby represents Alabama’s 2nd Congressional District. She lives in Montgomery with her husband, Riley, and their two children.

The op-ed above was published in the Montgomery Advertiser on October 11, 2016.