Our View: Congress must fix uncertainty of health care

Published 9:10 am Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Millions of Americans are being forced to race a ticking clock to jump on what appears to be a sinking ship.

How else could you describe the current situation with the Affordable Care Act?

Republicans have long vowed to repeal the health care legislation and will now have the power to do so by controlling Congress and the White House. For now, the program is on life support and the Obama administration is telling Americans they can still participate.

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Jan. 31, 2017, is the last day to enroll in or change a 2017 health insurance plan through the marketplace, but countless questions remain.

Will this program be in place a year from now? Will plans be honored through the end of next year if Congress makes changes? Will there still be penalties for not having coverage?

These and other questions put millions of Americans, including thousands of Clark County residents, in limbo as they await the uncertain future of their health care coverage.

Lawmakers must act quickly to eliminate this uncertainty but at the same time be cautious about wholesale changes that will negatively impact millions of people in the transition.

It will take a legitimate bipartisan effort and perhaps unprecedented compromise to create a system that will truly work for our country.

The driving reasons behind the ACA have not changed including the need to provide health coverage to millions of Americans who would not be able to afford it otherwise and the desire to drive down costs across the board.

Although parts of the legislation worked and many individuals now have critical health coverage they would not have otherwise, the overall system is failing because insurance providers are jumping ship at an alarming rate and others are forced to implement massive premium increases in order to stay afloat.

This bleeds over into the private market as insurance companies looking to make up for their losses raise rates for employer-driven plans. The middle class has been hit the hardest by these increases as these families often make too much to qualify for the subsidies that make the marketplace plans affordable but not enough money to pay for insurance on their own.

Legendary UCLA basketball coach John Wooden coached with the philosophy to “Be quick, but don’t hurry.” That is sound advice for Congress and the Donald Trump-led White House when it comes to fixing our nation’s flawed, yet vitally important, health coverage system.