Reply from Congressman Bob Goodlatte

Dear Mr. Gavaler:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the high cost of health care.  I appreciate hearing from you and share your concerns.

I know Americans are frustrated by rising health care costs and I share in this frustration.  I have talked with folks all across the 6th District, those under employer-sponsored health insurance plans, those providing employer-sponsored insurance, those self-insured, and even those uninsured; their message remains the same: health care is becoming unaffordable.

In just 30 years, from 1980 to 2010, health expenditures in the United States saw a tenfold increase, rising from $256 billion to $2.6 trillion.  In the future, the rate of increase in health expenditures is expected to grow at a faster rate than the rate of increase in national income.

No one can deny that this burden is laying a heavy stress on all Americans.  With the cost of health care being so high, those uninsured have few options if they cannot independently pay.  Because hospitals are required to treat emergency conditions regardless of ability to pay, the uninsured often turn to emergency rooms for care.  However, this exacerbates the problem because these costs are passed onto all consumers in the form of higher health care prices.

We can all agree that something must be done.  However, I stand firm in the position that heavy government regulation and one size fits all mandates from Washington are not the solution.  Government sponsored programs, such as Social Security and Medicare, are already facing fiscal crises.  I do not believe bureaucrats in Washington should have more control over citizens’ health care decisions.

Instead, Congress needs to work in a bi-partisan fashion to find a solution that would allow health care to be affordable for all Americans.  I am a strong supporter of proposals which allow for the purchase of health insurance across state lines, allow individuals and small businesses to join large pools to get more competitive rates, provide legal reform to cut down on the high costs of frivolous medical lawsuits, allow full tax deductibility of health insurance premiums, and provide for portability of health insurance and protection against pre-existing condition exclusions. In addition, I support health insurance tax credits for individuals and families who don’t have access to employer-based health insurance, increasing the number of community health centers, and encouraging the use of health information technology to achieve greater efficiencies.

You may be interested to know that I have cosponsored legislation regarding this issue in the 114th Congress. H.R. 2300, the Empowering Patients First Act, was introduced by Representative Tom Price of Georgia and would repeal Obamacare and replace it with patient-centered solutions.  Specifically, this legislation would increase the number of tax incentives for maintaining health insurance, incentivize the use of Health Savings Accounts, create mechanisms for high risk health insurance pools, and allow health insurance companies to sell insurance across state lines.  H.R. 2300 would also reform our tortsystem and incentivize health and wellness programs.

H.R. 2300 was introduced on May 13, 2015, and was referred to the House Committees on Energy and Commerce, Ways and Means, Education and the Workforce, Judiciary, Natural Resources,Administration, Rules, Appropriations, and Oversight and Government Reform. No further action has been taken. Rest assured, I will keep your views in mind as Congress considers this legislation.

We need a positive, patient-centered strategy that puts patients, families and doctors, not Washington bureaucrats, in control of personal health care decisions. While we can all agree that our current health care system needs to be reformed, the new health care law was not the right way to do it, which is why there was a bipartisan vote in the House of Representatives to repeal it. Now is the time to focus on replacing it with commonsense measures that expand access and choices while lowering costs.

You may be assured that I am working towards a bi-partisan solution to solve the problem of unaffordable health care.  I appreciate your taking the time to share your views with me. I believe it is important to keep an open line of communication so I can best serve the interests of the 6th district. In addition, I hope you will be in touch as the 114th Congress considers legislation or addresses additional issues of importance to the United States.

Again, thank you for the benefit of your comments. Please feel free to contact me whenever I may be of assistance.

With kind regards.

Sincerely,

Bob Goodlatte
Member of Congress

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Author: Chris Gavaler

Chris Gavaler is an assistant professor of English at Washington and Lee University where he teaches creative writing, contemporary fiction, and comics. He has published two novels, Pretend I'm Not Here (HarperCollins 2002) and School For Tricksters (Southern Methodist University 2011), and two nonfictions, On the Origin of Superheroes (Iowa University 2015) and Superhero Comics (Bloomsbury forthcoming 2017).

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