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Guest column/Improving health care means empowering patients to choose

When it comes to health care, pretty much everyone can agree that more choice is a good thing.

No parent would willingly relinquish the right to make health care decisions for their children, because no bureaucrat could possibly care more about a child’s well-being than that child’s own mother or father.

This common-sense principle guides President Trump’s entire health care agenda, which is based on empowering American families rather than forcing them into a one-size-fits-all government program, as presumptive Democrat nominee Joe Biden wants to do.

As a mother of four, I’ve had more than enough experience with the excessive red tape that has characterized America’s health care industry for so long — a problem that became dramatically worse as a result of Obamacare.

I want to be able to choose the sort of medical care available to my children, and I want the option of trying experimental drugs if any member of my family is ever suffering from a rare or incurable condition — without the federal Food and Drug Administration telling me that a given treatment is riskier than dying.

A little more than two years ago, Trump signed the historic “Right to Try” Act, which gives terminally ill patients and their families hope by allowing them to try new experimental drugs. This is not just a game-changer for the patients who receive a fresh chance at life, but also for future patients who may be able to benefit from breakthroughs made as a result of these trials.

Right to Try has even come into play during the coronavirus pandemic, allowing medical professionals to investigate the efficacy of treating COVID-19 patients with drugs developed for other purposes, such as hydroxychloroquine. One doctor in Plain City reported promising success with the treatment, which he has administered to 10 patients. Although the president’s critics have cited a debunked study to argue against experimenting with hydroxychloroquine treatment, the results clearly show that cutting red tape in our healthcare system yields substantial benefits — for instance, we’re currently on track to achieve the fastest launch of a vaccine trial in history.

At the same time, President Trump has taken steps to ensure that effective treatments are available to all Americans, not just those who can afford it. During the first two years of his presidency, the FDA approved a record number of generic drugs, saving American consumers about $26 billion by giving them alternatives to overpriced name-brand pharmaceuticals. My husband, U.S. Rep, Bill Johnson, R-Marietta, is working with other members of Congress on legislation that would eliminate surprise medical billing — a bipartisan initiative with strong backing from the White House that would save the government billions of dollars per year in health care expenditures.

More important, the president has repeatedly pledged, in definitive terms, that his administration will always maintain protections for patients with pre-existing conditions, a promise that has become much easier to keep thanks to the cost-saving, quality-enhancing reforms made to America’s health care system during the past three years.

Joe Biden, on the other hand, wants to double down on the failed policies of the past, forcing American families to navigate complex health care bureaucracies and endure skyrocketing costs. During the Obama-Biden administration, Ohio families’ health care costs rose steadily, increasing by hundreds of dollars per year. Thanks to reforms enacted under President Trump, such as increasing competition and eliminating the individual mandate, average premiums in the Buckeye State are projected to decrease this year for the first time since Obamacare was enacted.

Biden wants to reverse that progress and return us to the days when out-of-control health insurance costs stretched working families to the financial breaking point.

Biden is pitching what he describes as a “radical” taxpayer-funded health care plan that would involve “fundamental change” in the American health care system, such as providing “free” health coverage for illegal immigrants and forcing private insurers to “compete” with government-subsidized alternatives. Under Biden’s so-called “public option,” American hospitals would lose nearly $800 billion, placing 55 percent of rural hospitals at a high risk of closing. These hospitals collectively provide 63,000 staffed beds and employ 420,000 doctors, nurses, and other workers. In many cases, they’re also the only source of emergency medical care for an entire region.

Dismantling the American health care system and sharply decreasing both the quality and availability of care doesn’t come cheap, either. Biden’s plan would require $750 billion from American taxpayers, which would necessarily come in the form of job-killing tax hikes.

The contrast couldn’t be clearer. Joe Biden wants to force the American people to access health care on his terms — which means higher prices for lower-quality treatment that also is more difficult to access.

President Trump, however, has shown that empowering individuals to make their own health care decisions leads to lower costs and improved outcomes.

As a mother and as a taxpayer, I know which vision I prefer.

(Johnson is the wife of U.S. Rep. Bill Johnson, R-Marietta.)

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