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GOP pursuing better solutions for reforming system

On Jan. 19, the new Republican House majority will vote to replace President Obama's job-killing health care law for three reasons. One, it is badly flawed. Two, there are better solutions that will actually reduce health care costs. And three, it's what we said we would do.

The News editorial board recently wrote that the new health care law "missed the boat" because it "did too little to control costs. Without that component, reform is liable to fail."

I couldn't agree more. Cutting skyrocketing costs has always been the number one concern of Western New Yorkers I've spoken to.

Government analyses confirm that last year's health care law does not cut rising costs. Government actuaries believe "national health expenditures under the health reform act would increase by a total of $311 billion" over the next decade. "There's no question," said an expert at the highly respected Kaiser Family Foundation, "premiums are still going to keep going up."

Seniors will bear a special burden as prices rise. Because of cuts to Medicare and Medicare Advantage, an administration analysis found "the health care overhaul will result in increased out-of-pocket costs for seniors or 'less generous benefit packages' for Medicare Advantage plans," according to POLITICO.

Major employers have already done the math and found that it is billions of dollars cheaper to drop their coverage, pay the law's non-compliance penalty and send workers into government-run health insurance. This is how the law jeopardizes current care for millions despite the president's repeated assurances that "if you like your health care plan, you will be able to keep your health care plan. Period."

The law also fails as economics. The National Federation of Independent Business estimates an individual mandate for all Americans to purchase health insurance -- like what's included in the health care law -- could cost 1.6 million jobs.

I joined with colleagues in proposing a reform that will take tangible costs out of the system and expand access for all. This plan enacts meaningful medical liability reform, which was not included in the current law. Addressing this issue alone will reduce health care spending by $54 billion over the next 10 years, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

This plan would allow Western New Yorkers to purchase health insurance across state lines to encourage competition and spur economic growth. It would also empower small businesses to group together to get the same breaks big corporations get, and offer more coverage to their employees. It would prohibit lifetime limits on coverage and help people with pre-existing conditions obtain affordable coverage.

We are pursuing these common-sense reforms for one more reason: It's what we promised we would do. And in this age of cynicism, I believe it's a promise worth keeping.

Chris Lee, R-Amherst, represents New York's 26th Congressional District.

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