WHAT MY CONGRESSMAN HAS TO SAY IN FAVOR OF THE AMERICAN HEALTH CARE ACT

Virginia’s 1st congressional district (from here)

Am I a big fan of Rob Wittman? No. The guy talks like a Conservative, but he votes like a moderate. In fairness, however, a large chunk of his district is in Northern Virginia. Conventional wisdom does not favor the election of Conservatives here.  So if he voted as a Conservatively as he talks, I suppose he thinks a Democrat Liberal would soon replace him. Yet he also has a bunch of Conservatives in his district.  So he tries to please everyone. Not possible, of course.

Anyway, here is Wittman’s rationale for voting for the American Health Care Act. It is the text of an email he sent out today.

Friend,

This week, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 1628, the American Health Care Act, with my support. It is clear the Affordable Care Act is failing and must be fixed. Having reviewed the text of the bill and the Upton and MacArthur Amendments, I believe this legislation does what is necessary to protect individuals with pre-existing conditions, meets the principles for health care reform I laid out several months ago, and puts in place policies that will expand health care choices, increase access to care, and reduce costs.

This is the first step in a multi-step legislative and administrative process that will give individuals and families more control and choice over their health care decisions while increasing flexibility for states to deliver quality, affordable health care options to their residents.

I wanted to further explain my support of the bill by highlighting key parts of the American Health Care Act. Throughout the year, I conducted a Healthcare Listening Tour, where I heard from hospital administrators, doctors, nurses, patient advocates, people affected by the failing Affordable Care Act, and other stakeholders. These conversations reiterated how the failing Affordable Care Act is negatively affecting the constituents of the First District and furthered my resolve to work to make healthcare better for everyone. I remain committed to the constituents of the First District and will continue working to on behalf of their best interests.

 The Case for the American Health Care Act

1. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) is failing

The Affordable Care Act promised to lower costs, increase access to care, and expand health care choices. It has failed on all three.

Costs: According to the Washington Post, “Insurers are raising the 2017 premiums for a popular and significant group of health plans sold through HealthCare.gov by an average of 25 percent, more than triple the increase for this year, according to new government figures. The spike in average rates for the 38 states that rely on the federal marketplace created under the Affordable Care Act was announced by federal health officials on Monday.”

Access: According to Bloomberg, “Failing insurers. Rising premiums. Financial losses. The deteriorating Obamacare market that the health insurance industry feared is here. As concerns about the survival of the Affordable Care Act’s markets intensify, the role of nonprofit “co-op” health insurers — meant to broaden choices under the law — has gained prominence. Most of the original 23 co-ops have failed, dumping more than 800,000 members back onto the ACA markets over the last two years.”

Choice: According to Time, “According to a new analysis from the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation, almost a third of counties will have just one insurer participating in the exchanges by 2017, significantly more than the 7% of counties who had one option this year. That equates to 19% of all enrollees facing just one insurance option.”

And just recently we heard that Aetna was leaving the insurance exchanges in Virginia, meaning that Virginians in 50 of our 95 counties where Aetna operates will have one fewer insurance option. In 24 counties where it operates, there is just one other insurer selling Obamacare plans. This means Virginians have fewer choices and will face increased costs.

2. The Republicans plan to repeal the ACA will replace it with a bill that expands choice, increases access, and reduces costs

That plan is H.R. 1628, the American Health Care Act. The bill is the first step in a multi-step legislative and administrative process that will give individuals and families more control and choice over their health care decisions while increasing flexibility for states to deliver quality, affordable health care options to their residents.

The American Health Care Act repeals the ACA’s individual and employer mandates and tax increases while phasing out the ACA’s health insurance subsidies and Medicaid expansion, replacing them with refundable tax credits and a more effective Medicaid funding model.

3. American Health Care Act Questions Answered

Will the AHCA kick 24 million people off of their health insurance?

No. AHCA will ensure everyone has access to affordable, quality health care, but not by forcing them to buy insurance or penalizing them if they don’t purchase insurance. Instead, the AHCA provides refundable tax credits to low and middle income individuals so they have an incentive to purchase insurance.

Moreover, the original Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimate failed to take into account other planned legislative and administrative actions, which will help bring down costs and expand coverage. The CBO has a spotty track record when it comes to projecting health insurance coverage.  When CBO originally scored Obamacare, they projected that 21 million Americans would have coverage in 2016. The reality was half that number, about 10.4 million gained coverage.

Our plan provides every American with access to affordable coverage. Low-income individuals not on Medicaid will receive a refundable tax credit to purchase insurance (meaning they get assistance even if they do not pay income tax). States can also further help low-income Americans through a new Patient and State Stability Fund.

I have a pre-existing condition. How does this bill affect me?

Under the AHCA, insurance companies cannot deny you coverage based on pre-existing conditions. And your health status cannot affect your premiums, unless your state asks for and receives a waiver—a condition of which is the state having other protections in place for those with pre-existing conditions. Even if your state does obtain a waiver, so long as you’ve been continuously covered, you still cannot be charged more. The bill provides added resources to help people in waiver states who have not been continuously covered to gain coverage. Bottom line, there are many levels of protection for those with pre-existing conditions in the legislation.

I heard about the MacArthur amendment allowing states to waive protections for pre-existing conditions. If this happens, will I lose all my benefits?

No. This amendment preserves protections for people with pre-existing conditions while giving states greater flexibility to lower premiums and stabilize the insurance market. To obtain a waiver, states will have to establish programs to serve people with pre-existing conditions. And no matter what, insurance companies cannot deny you coverage based on pre-existing conditions.

The MacArthur amendment only applies to the individual insurance market, where roughly 7 percent of the country purchase coverage. This means that the MacArthur amendment does NOT apply to 93 percent of Americans with employer-provided coverage or government coverage (Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, VA benefits, and others).

Does the MacArthur amendment allow states to waive certain coverages, therefore raising costs?

Although it gives states an option to tailor coverage limitations, the process is very strict. A state must explain how a waiver will reach the goals of lowering premiums, increasing enrollment, stabilizing the market/premiums, and/or increasing choice. States must lay out the benefits they would provide. And most importantly, states may only apply for a waiver if they have their own risk pool in place. Again, the coverage of people with pre-existing conditions will be protected.

Even if a state asks for and is granted a waiver, no one’s premium may be priced based on health status if they have maintained continuous coverage. In addition to these protections, the AHCA provides significant resources at the federal and state level for risk-sharing programs that lower premiums for all people.

And what about the Upton amendment?

This $8 billion is on top of the $130 billion available to states through the AHCA’s Patient and State Stability Fund, which helps states repair their health markets damaged by Obamacare.

States can use the funds to:

  • cut out-of-pocket costs, like premiums and deductibles
  • promote access to preventive services, like getting an annual checkup, as well as dental and vision care
  • promote participation in private health insurance or to increase the number of options available through the market


How will the AHCA affect seniors?

We know that seniors require and deserve more robust health insurance coverage. But under the ACA, the cost of the most generous plan for older Americans is limited to three times the cost of the least generous plan for younger Americans. Many health economists say the true cost of care is 4.8-to-one. So Section 135 of the American Health Care Act changes what is known as the “permissible age variation” to a five-to-one ratio in insurance premium rates so that seniors have coverage that works for them. Simply put, seniors will be able to purchase a plan that covers their true cost of care.

Are Members of Congress and their staff bound to the same rules as everyone else?

Yes. The House passed, with Rep. Wittman’s support, H.R. 1292, a bill that ensures Members of Congress and their staff are treated the same way as everyone else under the American Health Care Act. What many people don’t know is that the Affordable Care Act included the exemption for Members of Congress and staff. Rep. Wittman opposed that language in the ACA, worked to get the exemption removed, and does not accept the stipend provided to Members of Congress under the Affordable Care Act to pay for his insurance premiums.

Personally, I am not happy with this bill, but it is a start, and we have to start someplace.

Elections have consequences. When we elected all those Democrat Liberals —  Socialists — and we asked them to give us other people’s money, that permitted our government to rob us.  Fortunately, we have started electing people who are more willing to let us run our own lives. That may not sound as wonderful as electing a clown who makes promises only God could keep, but it is considerably less costly, both in fortune and in blood.

Remember these words.

The journey will be difficult. The road will be long. I face this challenge with profound humility, and knowledge of my own limitations. But I also face it with limitless faith in the capacity of the American people. Because if we are willing to work for it, and fight for it, and believe in it, then I am absolutely certain that generations from now, we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless; this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image as the last, best hope on earth. This was the moment – this was the time – when we came together to remake this great nation so that it may always reflect our very best selves, and our highest ideals.

Supposedly smart people gave the man the Nobel Peace Prize just for uttering pretty words and getting elected. How crazy is that! Obama had almost no experience managing anything, much less a peace process. Just because someone can confidently spout pretty prose, does mean he can or even intends to deliver? Yet we elected him twice.

Republicans are not promising the sun and the moon or suggesting they have control over the rise of the oceans. They are not trying to pass their bill before we know what is in it. So please ignore our biased news media and give them a fair hearing.

HOW DID YOUR CONGRESSMAN VOTE ON THE AMERICAN HEALTH CARE ACT?

I have an old post that is getting hits. People want to know how their congressman voted.  So I wrote this post.

My congressman is Rob Wittman. Here is the statement he emailed this afternoon.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 4, 2017
CONTACT: DC Press Office
(202) 225-4261
Wittman Backs American Health Care Act 
WASHINGTON –Congressman Rob Wittman (VA-01) today released the following statement after voting in favor of H.R. 1628, the American Health Care Act.“It is clear the Affordable Care Act is failing and must be fixed. Having reviewed the text of the bill and the Upton and MacArthur Amendments, I believe this legislation does what is necessary to protect individuals with pre-existing conditions, meets the principles for health care reform I laid out several months ago, and puts in place policies that will expand health care choices, increase access to care, and reduce costs.

“This is the first step in a multi-step legislative and administrative process that will give individuals and families more control and choice over their health care decisions while increasing flexibility for states to deliver quality, affordable health care options to their residents.”

Congressman Rob Wittman represents the 1st District of Virginia. He serves on the House Natural Resources Committee and the House Armed Services Committee, where he is Chairman of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee.

###
www.wittman.house.gov

Which Republicans voted against the American Health Care Act? You can find out here (This was a vote to pass H.R. 1628 in the House.) at GovTrack or here (dailycaller.com). All the Democrats voted in lockstep against it.

Here are some descriptions of the bill, the GOP celebration and issues to come with the Senate.

I particularly enjoyed the complaint about philosophical incoherence. We got philosophical coherence with Obamacare. Obamacare is failing. Now we are just trying to salvage what we can before Obamacare collapses, and the people who made this mess won’t help to undo it. All they care about is blaming someone else. So the American Health Care Act is more about desperation than philosophy.

We have a choice.

  • The low road: We can let the system collapse. The resulting crisis will most likely give the Republican leadership (especially in the Senate) more flexibility in redesigning the system. However, we can rightly doubt that those senators who could have prevented the collapse have our best interests in mind.
  • The high road: We can do our best to keep our healthcare system working and make improvements over time.  Those improvements will require us to get it through some very thick skulls (meebots) that government-run charity is too political and too expensive.

Here is how utterly stupid we have become. We have elected leaders who advocate health insurance for preexisting conditions. That is oxymoronic. By definition no insurance company insures against a disaster that has already happened. Because giving someone money to fix a problem that has already happened is charity, insurance for preexisting conditions is more properly called charity. In fact, insurance for preexisting conditions rewards the undesirable behavior of people who could have bought health insurance and chose not to do so.

So far our president and majority of the House Republicans have taken the high road.  The Senate Republicans? Will they take the high road? We can hope for the best, but it is probably not realistic to expect it.

A “MODERATE” LIAR IS STILL A LIAR

We all know that the House Republicans are struggling to come up with the votes to defang Obamacare. Because of the filibuster rule in the Senate, they cannot come up with the votes for an outright repeal. However, the budget reconciliation process does allow them to defund the damnable thing. The problem? Now that there votes sudden mean something some “moderate” Republicans have gotten cold feet.

When an a political issue drags on for a long time, the history of the matter soon becomes clouded in mists of confusion. When the cover of darkness is not available, ambitious men and women will make do with what they have.

John 3:19-21 New American Standard Bible (NASB)

19 This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may be manifested as having been wrought in God.”

Depending upon who we believe, the House has voted over 50 time or only 6 times on Obamacare.

Over 50 times? Only 6 times? Does it make a difference? The point is that when President Obama was there to veto anything they passed, House Republicans had no trouble finding the votes they needed to either repeal or defund Obamacare. Now that we have President Trump, someone who wants to sign a bill, Republicans no longer have the votes. Apparently, the “moderates” were never serious about getting rid of Obamacare. Did they lie?

Have you forgotten where you Congressman said he stood on the issue of repeal? Then here are some websites that track votes.

The last website has the most detailed information. Apparently, healthreformvotes.org is one of those well-funded Democrat Liberal feed-for-“free” at the government trough groups. Here (click on “here”) for example is the information they have on my congressman, Rep. Robert Wittman. It starts like this.

healthreformvotes.org likes my senators, unfortunately.

Frankly, even though I disagree with their stance, I appreciate the information healthreformvotes.org. Regardless of which side you are on, we need to hold even “moderate” liars accountable. Any politician who will lie to us will steal from us.

Anyway, please check on the votes of your congressman. If he or she is a “moderate” Republican and now suddenly unwilling to vote to get rid of Obamacare, you may wish to remind him or her of those previous votes and politely request an explanation.

 

STUPID! JUST PLAIN STUBBORNLY STUPID!

Live blog: GOP health care bill pulled as Republican leaders fail to get votes

Are you a Conservative? Then do the math! How many Republicans do we have in the Senate? The number is 52. How many votes are required to end a filibuster?  The number is 60. No matter how badly Republicans want to repeal Obamacare we are short 8 votes (and it ain’t all that badly).

So what did Speaker Paul Ryan and President Donald Trump put together? Check out INFORMATION WE NEED FOR THE DEBATE ON REPEALING AND REPLACING OBAMACARE. Listen to Ryan.  https://www.c-span.org/video/standalone/?425131-1/speaker-ryan-explains-gop-health-care-plan-amid-growing-opposition&popoutPlayer.

The bill the House should have passed, the American Health Care Act, was just phase 1 of a 3-phase plan.  Most of the actual work was in phases 2 and 3.  Do you know what those phases are? If you don’t, then you don’t understand why phase 1, the American Health Care Act, looks like Obamacare lite.  Since we don’t have the votes to repeal Obamacare, all the Senate can do is use the Budget Reconciliation process to pull its teeth. In phase 2, the executive branch — Trump’s people for now — uses executive orders to dismantle the Obamacare regulatory structure. Could a Democrat administration put it back in place? Yes, but we do what is possible in the here and now. The future we cannot control. In phase 3, Congress will try to pass legislation to wholly repeal and replace Obamacare. Phase 3 requires sixty votes in the Senate. We have to fight for those votes. Maybe we will have them AFTER the 2016 elections, but not likely.  It is going to take time to wean Americans off of the teats of big government.

We need to FOCUS ON WINNING THE WAR, not falling collectively on our swords, pridefully self-destructing just to make some silly point. If Conservatives want to take back the country, then we need to get the government out of the education business. If we don’t want so many voters indoctrinated in the supposed virtues of Socialism, then we need to stop corrupt politicians from indoctrinating them.

Meanwhile, the best thing we can do about Obamacare is to allow the Trump administration to start phase 2, using the regulatory powers that Obamacare gives the executive branch to undo what the Obama administration did. That requires the passage of the American Health Care Act.

So what should the House do now? It is a waste of time, but the House could pass a bill that repeals Obamacare.  Then House members can watch the Democrats filibuster the stupid thing in the Senate. Then the holier than thou can blame those Democrats when Obamacare self-destructs. Or those politicians who actually want our government to work can try to head off the failure of Obamacare. They can try to prevent the harm the failure of Obamacare will entail and pass the American Health Care Act.