The Hatch-Brady bill offers a way to make health insurance affordable

The Oct. 26 editorial “Health-care reform that pays off” unfairly maligned a bill introduced by two committee chairmen as “dismantling major pieces of Obamacare.” It does nothing of the sort.

Like the bill proposed by Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) that the editorial praised, a bill from Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) and Rep. Kevin Brady (R-Tex.) would appropriate money for cost-sharing-reduction subsidies. That’s not nearly enough to provide relief to consumers, who are leaving health-insurance markets in droves. Gallup reported that the uninsurance rate in the third quarter of 2017 reached its highest level since 2014, as the Affordable Care Act makes insurance unaffordable.

Hatch-Brady would temporarily suspend tax penalties on the uninsured. This wildly unpopular tax sought to stabilize markets by coercing healthy people into paying an unattractive price for an unattractive product. It has failed utterly. It seems especially cruel for government to levy this tax before repairing rickety individual markets.

The Hatch-Brady measure also would expand health savings accounts, providing consumers tax relief as they struggle with the ACA’s skyrocketing deductibles. Neither bill would undo the damage Washington has inflicted on families who once could afford health insurance. But Hatch-Brady advances some very sensible and politically popular ideas and is far from the “unhelpful, partisan proposal” the editorial made it out to be.

Doug Badger, Ashburn

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