Thursday, May 4, 2017

Washington State Republican Representatives Positions on the American Health Care Act

The Affordable Health Care Act was the other Washington's drama on May 4th. As the House bill debate was entirely within the GOP with no effort at bipartisan legislation, I will leave off the Democrats. There are 4 Washington GOP representatives.

Jamie Herrera Beutler represents southwest Washington State. She voted no and and has been pretty clear about why. Her press statement throws in the usual Obamacare repeal and replace language, but she clearly articulates that the GOP House bill would be bad for southwest Washington State.

Jaime Herrera Beutler released the following statement regarding the U.S. House’s vote on the The American Health Care Act:
“I remain steadfast in my commitment to repeal and replace Obamacare with health care solutions that better serve all residents of Southwest Washington.
“Despite working with House leadership, the President and Vice President up until the last minute to improve it, I still didn’t feel that the American Health Care Act does enough to make health care affordable and accessible for all.  And while I appreciate House leadership’s willingness to meet me halfway on my amendment to ensure vulnerable children aren’t left behind, the final bill still fell short.  
“The difficulties this bill would create for millions of children still need to be addressed.  For the last several weeks, I fought to include my amendment to strengthen the Medicaid safety net for the kids who depend on it for their health care.  Protecting vulnerable children is a core purpose of the Medicaid program and when the program fails to do so, it fails entirely.   I could not vote to let those kids fall through the cracks.
“Southwest Washington residents also deserve a greater commitment to lowering health costs so that out-of-pocket expenses, premiums and taxes are taking up less of their monthly paychecks.  Congress should more purposefully move ahead with free market reforms that increase competition between insurance providers and drive down premiums and deductibles. 
“I’ll remain fully engaged as Congress moves forward with this effort, and won’t cease working toward solutions that leave Southwest Washington residents with better access to health care than Obamacare has left them.”
Dave Newhouse was not able to vote as he was home with his very ill wife, but he did issue a statement. It would appear that he is favorably inclined to what was passed, but perhaps he is hoping the U.S. Senate will do something better:

“For years, I have been hearing from Central Washington families who lost insurance that they wanted to keep and are now paying more for health care due to the Affordable Care Act. Their stories of paying higher prices for insurance and higher deductibles with limited insurance options have been the reason I have voted in the past to repeal Obamacare along with its mandate and bureaucratic regulations. I strongly believe that every American deserves access to affordable health care, and the status quo under the ACA is not working. Because of my wife Carol’s health, I have largely remained by her side and was unable to be in D.C. for the vote on the AHCA. I am pleased the process to improve our health care system will continue with action by the Senate and further negotiations with the House. I will continue to work with my colleagues to keep my promise to reverse the burdens created by Obamacare and restore patient-centered health care.”

Cathy McMorris-Rogers voted, yes. I will offer the the opinion that McMorris-Rogers is a bit of a partisan hack. It is tempting to get into the weeds of each of her points, but the main driver of the GOP house bill is a removal of a tax of 3.5% on dividends for those that earn over $250,000. This is not a health care bill, it is a tax cut for a small segment of the population. What follows is her statement of why. 

  • The ACHA dismantles the harmful Obamacare taxes that have hurt job creators, increased premium costs, and limited options for patients and healthcare providers—including taxes on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, and medical devices. 
  • It eliminates the individual and employer mandates, which forced millions of workers, families, and job creators into expensive plans that they don’t want and cannot afford.   
  • It helps young adults access health insurance and stabilizes the marketplace by allowing young adults to continue staying on their parents’ plan until they’re 26. This is not a change - this is part of the ACA (Obama Care)
  • It guarantees coverage to Americans with pre-existing conditions and bans health insurers from charging a patient higher premiums as long as they maintain continuous coverage, or sign up for new coverage within 63 days of exiting a previous insurance plan. This is the not a tax penalty mandate. It is an insurance mandate and is actually more severe than the tax penalty under current law. 
  • It establishes a Patient State and Stability Fund and Federal Invisible Risk Sharing Program, which provides states with $130 billion to design programs that meet the unique needs of their patient populations, help low-income Americans afford health care, and provide a backstop safety net for Americans with pre-existing conditions. This includes $15 billion specifically for mental health and substance abuse and newborn care.    
  • It modernizes and strengthens Medicaid by transitioning to a “per capita allotment” so states can better serve the patients most in need, while still providing for current Medicaid beneficiaries — like those under the expansion in Washington state — by honoring the enhanced state match until these individuals cycle off the program of their own free will. This Medicaid reform represents the biggest entitlement reform in a generation and puts the program on a sustainable fiscal path.
  • It empowers individuals and families to spend their health care dollars the way they want and need by enhancing and expanding Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) — nearly doubling the amount of money people can contribute and broadening how people can use it.
  • It helps Americans access affordable, quality health care by providing a monthly tax credit — between $2,000 and $14,000 per year — for low and middle income individuals and families who don’t receive insurance through work or a government program to purchase private, quality coverage of their choice.
Dave Reichert voted no. Pretty clear statement as to why. I underlined "both sides of the aisle" because this bill was strictly a GOP bill.

U.S. Congressman Dave Reichert (WA-8) released the following statement regarding the upcoming vote on the American Health Care Act in the U.S. House of Representatives.
"Over the past several years, I have been committed to fixing our current health care system to increase choice, reduce costs on Americans, and allow families to access the care they need. I have also remained committed to protecting the most vulnerable in our communities, including children on Medicaid, people with preexisting conditions, and older Americans. These have been and continue to be my priorities for health care reform. Unfortunately, the current House bill falls short and does not provide the essential protections I need to support it.
With all of the political banter surrounding this bill, it can be difficult to remember that this decision ultimately comes down to people. We need to know our loved ones can get and afford the care they need, regardless of age, income, or health status.  And we need to know that changes made by our government, even to a failing system, will not leave our friends, families, and neighbors worse off. I will continue to work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to fix what is failing and make our current system work better for American families.

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