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OPINION: Six year check-up of Obamacare

Six years ago, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) into law. Commonly called Obamacare, this law was intended to provide all Americans with access to quality, affordable, low-cost health care. Not surprisingly, we have found that...

Six years ago, President Obama signed the Affordable Care Act (ACA) into law. Commonly called Obamacare, this law was intended to provide all Americans with access to quality, affordable, low-cost health care. Not surprisingly, we have found that the opposite is happening. Instead, health care costs are soaring, premiums have risen at record rates and access to care continues to challenge consumers. And there is no sign of these damaging effects slowing down.

For many families across the United States, health insurance premiums are the biggest household expense. I continue to hear from South Dakotans who simply cannot afford their new plans under the ACA, yet they are required by law to purchase the plans or face steep tax penalties. In one case, the premium for a healthy married couple in their 50's now costs more than $15,000 annually. That doesn't even include co-pays or deductibles that they pay when they go to the doctor. Another individual told me her premium increased 40 percent in 2016, so she now pays $1,270 each month for her health insurance. These are just a few of the many stories I continue to hear about rising premiums and higher out-of-pocket costs because of Obamacare.

According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the ACA costs American taxpayers more than $116 billion a year. In fact, on average, every household in the United States can expect more than $20,000 in new taxes over the next 10 years because of the ACA. And health care providers are being hurt by the law's administrative costs. A recent survey of U.S. doctors found that many are struggling to handle growing paperwork demands. Even more alarming, their paperwork burden is getting worse, bogging down time and energy that could otherwise be spent on the patient. These are heavy burdens to place on the already over-taxed, over-regulated American public.

When Republicans took over the Senate last year, we made it our mission to repeal the ACA. In December 2015, the Senate for the first time passed a reconciliation bill that would have repealed major parts of the Affordable Care Act. Not surprisingly, it was vetoed by the president, and the House of Representatives was unable to override his veto. In order to fully get rid of the ACA, we need to maintain Republican control of both houses of Congress and elect a president in November who will commit to its repeal. We must also come together to create a real replacement plan that is patient-centered and truly affordable for all Americans.

After six years, we know that too many South Dakota families and businesses have been hurt by this poorly-written law. I will continue working in the Senate to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a market-based plan that is actually affordable and will drive down costs. Healthy competition within the private insurance marketplace would allow families and individuals to purchase the health care plan that best fits their needs and budget.

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