David Sparks Ph.d American Health Care Act
by David Sparks Ph.d, click here for bio

Program: Line on Agriculture
Date: May 11, 2017

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By now most of you are aware of the passage of the new health care system call the American Health Care Act. Just thought you might want to

hear how a couple of your Northwest Congressman felt about this issue. First, Rep. Greg Walden (R-Hood River), Chairman of the House Energy and Commerce Committee, released a statement on the passage of the American Health Care Act:

“For seven years, our constituents, patients, friends, and family, have suffered under a one-size-fits-all law that is collapsing under its own weight,”  said Walden. “The American Health Care Act will put patients, families, and their doctors first.  It will protect those with pre-existing conditions and provides states with the flexibility they need to help meet the unique needs of their citizens.  Simply put, the American people deserve better than what they received under Obamacare and the American Health Care Act delivers on our commitment to rebuild our health insurance markets and provide relief to the American people. We want to thank President Trump, Vice President Pence, and our colleagues in the House who have worked so hard to get this bill over the finish line today. There’s more work to be done, and we know we are up to the task.”

On Thursday, Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson supported the American Health Care Act which passed the House of Representatives by 217-213. The legislation is a repeal and replacement plan for Obamacare.

“I voted against the passage of Obamacare and I have voted to repeal it over 60 times,” said Simpson. “Many members promised the American public that they would repeal and replace Obamacare and this vote is the first step to fulfilling that promise. I believe in keeping my promises.”

Specifically, H.R. 1628 begins the process of replacing Obamacare with provisions that lower premiums and provide more choices for health coverage. The Congressional Budget Office found that premiums will be 10% lower under this legislation. One such mechanism to do this is to provide over $130 billion to Patient and State Stability Funds to lower costs and stabilize insurance markets, including a dedicated fund for states to expand services for mental health, addiction treatment, and further support for patients with pre-existing conditions. The bill also eliminates the most burdensome Obamacare mandates such as the individual mandate, the employer mandate, and numerous tax increases that have driven up health care costs.

“The Affordable Care Act is unsustainable given its current trajectory. The thought of a total collapse in the health care market is simply too dangerous to ignore given the stakes. The question today was to stick with Obamacare or to start the process of fixing our broken health care system.  The American Health Care Act is the only opportunity we have to start that replacement process.  It is not perfect given the limited scope of reconciliation rules, but to fix health care we need to start somewhere.”

The legislation includes an amendment to provide additional support for people with pre-existing conditions. Importantly, states may not – under any circumstance - ever obtain a waiver for pre-existing condition protection, prohibition on gender discrimination,  guaranteed issue and renewability, or for the right of dependents to stay on a family plan up to the age 26.

In March, the House also passed two health care reform bills that will lower costs through increased competition. The Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act is a policy change that Congressman Simpson has long cosponsored and supported.  The legislation would level the playing field by removing the McCarran-Ferguson Act’s federal antitrust exemption for health insurance businesses. Congressman Simpson voted in favor of the Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act which passed by a large bipartisan vote of 416-7.

The Small Business Health Fairness Act would allow small businesses to join together to offer coverage through association health plans thus providing another option for purchasing health insurance and creating competition. The legislation also passed the House with bipartisan support of 236-175.

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