My plan would protect patients

May 29th, 2015 

“It would also give America an informed choice in the 2016 election between Obamacare and an affordable replacement.”

Originally published here in USA Today, May 27, 2015

Americans went to the polls in November 2012 unaware that President Obama's assurance, "If you like your health care plan, you can keep it," would be crowned "Lie of the Year" by PolitiFact. A year later, millions of Americans lost health care plans they liked and could afford while also losing access to doctors they knew and trusted.

It is difficult to hold a rational political argument based on predictions. Besides, former governor Mitt Romney, author of "Romneycare" in Massachusetts, was particularly ill-suited to make the case against Obamacare. As a result, repeal and replacement of Obamacare was not the central issue of 2012.

Now that Obamacare has been implemented and Americans can judge both the good and the bad in it, it should be a central issue in the 2016 elections. The upcoming decision in the King v. Burwell case at the Supreme Court could force that political debate.

Because Obamacare was sloppily written and unlawfully implemented, millions of Americans using federal exchanges could lose their taxpayer-funded subsidies. A bill I have authored would protect patients — and give America an informed choice in the 2016 election between Obamacare and an affordable replacement.

The Preserving Freedom and Choice in Health Care Act would allow Americans to keep their current health care plans, including Obamacare, and their taxpayer subsidies through August 2017. It would restore to Americans some of the freedom Obamacare denies them.

My bill repeals the individual mandate, ending penalties on Americans exercising their right not to purchase insurance. It repeals the employer mandate, allowing employees to work full-time instead of being forced into part-time work.

Finally, it eliminates mandated coverages that have driven up the cost of health care and forced millions to lose health care plans they liked and could afford.

Unlike the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, this transitional piece of legislation would live up to its name, reverse many of the negative unintended consequences of Obamacare, and pave the way for full replacement in 2017.

Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., is the author of a leading alternative to Obamacare.