To the Editor:
After No Child Left Behind, states were left with federal standards to improve and assess their unique school systems. Forty-five states, including Illinois, said they could do it better, and the U.S. Department of Education let them try. The administration gave state educational agencies the flexibility to request waivers for 10 provisions of the law and implement plans to improve outcomes for their students and teachers.
The federal government overreached when it came to our children’s education, and states were rightfully granted a way out. Why not when it comes to our health insurance?
I recently introduced the State Health Care Options Act to bring parity to the federal government’s position on state innovation in education and health insurance. While the Affordable Care Act includes a waiver option, the administration made it functionally impossible for states to get one. My bill would simplify and streamline the law’s waiver requirements and allow states to opt out of the ACA’s essential health benefits requirements and exchange provisions, while maintaining coverage for pre-existing health conditions and for young people under the age of 26.
The State Health Care Options Act is the first step out of the ACA, a law that is threatening Illinoisans with a possible 30 percent increase in health insurance premiums next year and a loss of already-limited options as the market becomes even more consolidated. My bill would give states like Illinois the freedom to try something different, to foster a less regulated insurance market through more effective use of technology and data analysis. These waivers will offer states and their unique populations more choices and lead to lower premium prices.
States have independently produced and tested successful approaches to countless national challenges, like education.
Health care should be no different.
U.S. Rep. Randy Hultgren
Illinois 14th Congressional District