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.

 

FOCUS ON WINNING THE WAR

Obamacare is one of those disasters half of us would just like to go away. The other half either has selfish financial interests or Utopian pipe dreams tied up in such Socialist legislation. Think I am being unfair to the other half? From the beginning we knew Obamacare would not work. Obamacare is economically unsound. So from the beginning we knew what the Democrats wanted was a single payer, government-run healthcare monopoly. Don’t we know how, if Hillary Clinton had been elected, Obamacare would have been fixed? Don’t we already know Obamacare needs to be fixed?

So now we have this stinking albatross around our neck. What is the best way to get rid of it? There is no quick and simple answer.  Budget reconciliation does not clearly provide it.

The reconciliation process, created by the Congressional Budget Act of 1974 (Pub. L. 93–344, 88 Stat. 297, 2 U.S.C. §§ 601–688), establishes the mechanism by which Congress can move controversial legislation without it being subject to a filibuster in the Senate. But to use the authority, Congress must take certain prescribed steps and avoid potential pitfalls. (continued here)

Pitfalls! So it is that Congress cannot include matters extraneous to budget reconciliation in a budget reconciliation bill.

Specifically, section 313(b)(1) of the Congressional Budget Act defines “extraneous” matters as those that:

  • do not produce a change in outlays or revenues;

  • produce changes in outlays or revenue which are merely incidental to the non-budgetary components of the provision;

  • are outside the jurisdiction of the committee that submitted the title or provision for inclusion in the reconciliation measure;

  • increase outlays or decrease revenue if the provision’s title, as a whole, fails to achieve the Senate reporting committee’s reconciliation instructions;

  • increase net outlays or decrease revenue during a fiscal year after the years covered by the reconciliation bill unless the provision’s title, as a whole, remains budget neutral; or

  • contain recommendations regarding the OASDI (social security) trust funds.

(from here)

Thus, when Congress tried to repeal Obamacare in 2015 they ran into problems in the Senate.

In October 2015, the House passed H.R. 3762: Restoring Americans’ Healthcare Freedom, which repealed significant portions of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), including:

  • the Automatic Enrollment Requirement,
  • the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF, also referred to as the “Obamacare slush fund”),
  • both the Individual and Employer Mandates,
  • the Medical Device Tax, and
  • the health insurance “Cadillac Tax,”.

The bill also prohibited federal funds for Planned Parenthood, its affiliates, subsidiaries, successors, and clinics for one year. Instead, the bill designated an additional $235 million for the Community Health Center Fund.

When the bill reached the Senate in January 2016, the Senate parliamentarian reviewed the House-passed bill to see if provisions of the bill met the extraneous matter requirements of the Byrd Rule.  She determined that repeal of the individual mandate and employer mandate, were extraneous policies, and not primarily budgetary in nature.  As a result, they were dropped from the bill and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) offered an amended version of the reconciliation bill that retained the policy of the individual and employer mandates, but eliminated the penalty for non-compliance.

Final passage from the conference committee occurred January 6, 2016 and was vetoed by President Obama two days later. (from here)

So even if the House passes the bill before it, the Senate may weaken it.  Unfortunately, we have little reason to believe the Senate dislikes big government.

So let consider a solution for this problem. Let’s begin by properly defining the problem. How did Obamacare happen? Democrats, politicians who do not respect the Constitution or our nation’s traditions, got control of the presidency, the House, a 60-vote majority in the Senate, and a practical majority on the Supreme Court. Therefore, to repeal Obamcare, we need control of the presidency, the House, a 60-vote majority in the Senate, and a practical majority on the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, we are not quite there. So, the solution is getting there, getting enough Conservative politicians to pass Conservative legislation.

Why do the American people elect politicians who do not respect the Constitution or our nation’s traditions? That is both a problem of the heart and the heart of the problem. To the extent we can do something about it, it is an education problem. Before the Democrats created budget-busting boondoggles like Social Security, Medicare, and now Obamacare, they took over the education of our nation’s children. So it is we have public funding of schools starting in kindergarten and ending with the completion of doctoral programs. Inevitably, people educated in socialist institutions by people who make their living off socialist institutions have difficulty seeing what is wrong with Socialism.  Inevitably, when the absence of instruction suggests such things don’t matter, children raised in secularized institutions have a difficult time relating to God and God-given rights. Therefore, if we don’t want everything run by our government, we must privatize our education system.

Are you familiar with school choice? Even if you are, you may find it useful to visit What is School Choice?  This is an article provided by Focus on the Family, which some would call a right-wing Christian organization. Here is how that article begins.

School choice is a nationwide movement that empowers parents by enabling them to make the best possible choice for their children’s education. In short, it puts power in the hands of parents to decide which type of education best fits the needs of their particular child – whether that is a public, private or religious institution, or educating their child at home.

School choice also protects parents’ constitutional rights to direct their children’s upbringing in accordance with the values, principles and religious convictions they hold dear. (continued here)

Think about it. Has the notion of the People running the own lives — educating their own children as they see fit — become as scary to our government as it was to the British Crown in 1776?

So what do we do with President Donald Trump’s and Speaker Paul Ryan’s bill, the American Health Care Act? I suggest we help Trump and Ryan pass the bill.  It is not perfect, but we need to keep our allies strong.  Trump and Ryan need the win, and half a loaf is better than none. At this point, half a loaf is all we can expect.

Why must we keep Trump and Ryan strong? Although we must fight our school choice battles predominantly at the state level, we must keep strong advocates for school choice in charge of the Federal Government. Otherwise, Democrats will win the fight to federalize the education of our nation’s children with programs like Common Core. See the following.

Is Common Core is a commie plot? Who knows?  The point is that the Constitution does not authorize a Federally run educational bureaucracy. Even if the Constitution did authorize Federal spending on education, do we actually need massive numbers of bureaucrats to educate our children? What possible good could they do?