By Marco Rubio
Five years ago, President Obama and Congressional Democrats disregarded both the Constitution and the opinion of the American people when they enacted ObamaCare. Since then, Americans have seen the law transition from political to personal. Many have lost access to their longtime doctor. They lost the insurance plan they were happy with. They pay higher premiums or a higher deductible. Maybe it cost them their job, maybe it cost them hours at work, or maybe they’re suffering from all of the above.
As the legislation has been implemented over the last five years, the cracks in the final bill have expanded one by one into full scale crises. President Obama has attempted to patch these problems by writing new rules and regulations on the fly, often with questionable constitutionality. But soon his days of bypassing federal law and the Constitution may catch up to him, and to all of us.
The U.S. Supreme Court has taken up a case related to ObamaCare known as King v. Burwell, and its implications are far-reaching. At issue is whether the federal government can subsidize the purchase of health insurance plans made available on the federal exchange. The law states very clearly that it cannot. Should the Supreme Court rule against the subsidies, it would be a significant blow to ObamaCare and, unfortunately, to the many Americans who have followed its edicts.
Such a ruling should prove once and for all that ObamaCare cannot be fixed and must be fully repealed and replaced. That must be the ultimate goal of Congress and our next president. In the short term, however, we must also recognize the reality that the ruling would leave millions without health insurance. The blame for this, of course, will lie not with the Court, but with the administration for its false and unconstitutional promises.
Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, in a potentially telling moment, publicly expressed confidence that Congress will act if the Court deals a blow to the law. Given our new Republican majorities, I share his confidence. Credible conservative plans have already emerged from Senator Ben Sasse, Congressman Paul Ryan and others. The goal is to provide an off-ramp for our people to escape this law without losing their insurance, and all conservatives in Congress should work together toward this goal.
To mitigate the fallout that will come with the collapse of this law, and to meet the long-term goal of replacing it with conservative solutions, I have worked to assemble a three part plan to serve as a foundation for the post-ObamaCare era. While other measures may be necessary to correct the damage done by this law, I believe these three ideas are the crucial elements of a plan to put patients and families back in control of their health care decisions.
First, we should provide an advanceable, refundable tax credit that all Americans can use to purchase health insurance. The value of these credits should increase every year, and we should set the tax preference for employer-sponsored insurance on a glide path to ensure that it will equal the level of the credits at the end of the decade. This will prevent large-scale disruptions and reform one of the most significant distortions in our tax system.
Second, we must reform insurance regulations to encourage innovation. Americans with pre-existing conditions should be able to find coverage through their state’s federally-supported, actuarially-sound high risk pools. Americans living in high-cost states should have the opportunity to purchase coverage across state lines. Consumer-centered products like health savings accounts should be expanded. And under no circumstances should taxpayers be asked to bail out an insurance company that loses money, as is currently the case under ObamaCare.
Third, we must save Medicare and Medicaid by placing them on fiscally sustainable paths. Without reforms, these programs will eventually cease to be available for those that need them. I believe we must move Medicaid into a per-capita cap system, preserving funding for Medicaid’s unique populations while freeing states from Washington mandates. Medicare, meanwhile, should be transitioned into a premium support system, empowering seniors with choice and market competition, just like Medicare Advantage and Part D already do.
It is my hope that all Americans will have access to affordable health insurance in the 21st century. These consumer-centered reforms will advance that goal the only way it can be advanced: by channeling the power of our free market. After the downfall of ObamaCare – which I believe has been inevitable from the beginning, but may be precipitated by the Supreme Court decision later this year – a plan such as this will restore our people’s access to quality care.
Over the last five years, ObamaCare has revealed the painful consequences of placing our faith in big government. Government’s ambitions may be limitless, but its abilities are not. The free market, when allowed to function as intended, has no such limitations. It has an inexhaustible ability to empower our people and meet their needs. We need leaders in Congress – and in the White House – who will recognize that fact.
Republican Marco Rubio represents Florida in the U.S. Senate. He is a member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation.
Article originally appeared on FoxNews.com.
Photo credit: Gage Skidmore