Update on Repeal/Replace
The healthcare debate and accompanying legislation continues to move very fast here in Washington. The House Energy and Commerce Committee marked up the bill from yesterday morning to about mid-day today. It’s unusual for a committee to go all through the night without stopping but they did so and that gives one an indication of how fast they are attempting to move on this bill. The Ways and Means Committee marked up as well.
Throughout the day I’ve been in three meetings on this issue, and in fact my day started with a conversation from here in D.C. on the Kelly Golden Show back home in Charleston. What was interesting about that visit is that Kelly asked me to come on to respond to the Vice President joining their show this morning. He gave three radio interviews in the early morning, in each case in the districts of Members who have raised questions about some of what’s incorporated into the American Health Care Act being rushed forward. This morning’s district calls by the Vice President included Jim Jordan of Ohio, Justin Amash of Michigan and myself. American Action Network also began running a TV ad series this morning in the district advancing the American Health Care Act.
While these different points of advocacy are what come in advancing any political idea, I continue to remain concerned about three facets of this bill.
One, there are several portions of the bill that amount to open ended commitments by the taxpayer. For instance, in its present form it would leave open Medicaid expansion for the next three years. In my view this will create the unintended consequence of encouraging governors and legislative bodies across the country to expand their Medicaid rolls. If the door is closing and you see there’s a three-year window before it does so, does it not encourage a political body to grab more federal dollars while they can?
Two, it’s built upon the notion of “let’s get it done, but trust me later for the details.” Ronald Reagan encouraged the opposite in transactions as his thinking was more along the lines of “trust, but verify.” If we pass the first portion of the bill but change in the delivery and cost of healthcare in our country is predicated on stages two and three, what happens if two and three don’t happen?
This is very important. The things that would most impact the cost of health care, and by extension its availability, are built into stage three of this process. If Republicans pass health care that doesn’t positively impact the cost and availability of health care for Americans, the “victory” on changing the Affordable Care Act will prove to be a pyrrhic one.
Finally, we need to be careful about rushing a bill like this that involves nearly one-fifth of the American economy, without thoroughly vetting its many repercussions and consequences. The one thing I’ve heard in talking to folks at home is that their health care really matters. I am committed to the notion of repeal and replace with the Affordable Care Act…but we really do need to make certain it’s with something that betters people’s lives, creates a more robust marketplace that in turn helps in the pricing of medicine…and finally something that doesn’t heap onto the taxpayer yet new liabilities.
In any case, that’s a quick update from my end on the day’s activities on the American Health Care Act. I will continue to try and keep you posted.