Dear Mr. Gavaler:
Thank you for contacting me about the high cost of health care and your thoughts regarding the American Health Care Act. It is valuable for me to hear how Congress can better reform our health care system, and I will be sure to share that information with my colleagues who sit on committees with jurisdiction over health care reform.
Seven years ago, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, became law. With it came unaffordable premiums, higher deductibles, and lack of choice and access for far too many folks in the Sixth District of Virginia and across the country. It is clear that Obamacare is collapsing. Many insurers are leaving the exchanges, leaving parts of the country, including in Virginia, with just one or two insurers on the exchange. Additionally, costs for families continue to rise. Premiums in most states have increased by double digits.
That’s why I have voted dozens of times to defund, dismantle, or repeal Obamacare and have supported alternative health care proposals. There is a better way to enact health care reform than Obamacare – one that repeals onerous mandates, invites competition and choice, and lowers costs. In the 115th Congress the proposed alternative to repeal Obamacare and replace it with patient centered reforms was H.R. 1628, the American Health Care Act (AHCA).
At its most basic, the AHCA would take steps to ensure that health care remains affordable, and accessible. Notably, under the AHCA, individuals who do not have access to health insurance through their employer or a government health insurance program would receive an age and income adjusted advanceable, refundable tax credit for the purchase of state-approved, major medical health insurance coverage and unsubsidized COBRA coverage. The bill would expand the use of Health Savings Accounts by increasing the maximum contribution levels by nearly 100 percent and would repeal a number of taxes imposed by Obamacare, including a tax on medical devices. Certain patient protections would also be carried over, including protecting access to coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions and allowing dependents under the age of 26 to stay on their parents’ plans. In addition, this legislation would transition federal Medicaid payments to a per-capita allotment system and eliminate individual and employer mandate penalties.
As you may know, the AHCA was considered by three House committees and scheduled for a vote by the full House of Representatives on Friday, March 24th. However, the Speaker of the House, Paul Ryan, removed the AHCA from the schedule and the bill did not receive a vote.
While I am disappointed that legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare did not receive a vote, this process is far from over. Congress must continue working to come to a consensus on legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare once and for all. Crafting a new system that works for Americans is of the utmost importance and is something Congress has taken very seriously. I believe that you should be in charge of your health care, not the federal government and I don’t believe that the government should force Americans to buy a plan that they don’t want. I understand that there are folks in the Sixth District who like their coverage under Obamacare. There are many others who have suffered under the law through high deductibles, unaffordable premiums, and lack of access. Once a new health care system is agreed upon, for the approximately five percent of Virginians who enrolled in an Obamacare Marketplace plan, we will need a transition period to help them find a new plan.
While I was planning to vote for the AHCA, a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, I am interested in any health care proposal that lowers health care costs for all Americans and ensures that the important choices in healthcare are made by individuals, not big government mandates. As long as Obamacare continues to fail, I will continue to work in the House to maintain my commitment to the people of the Sixth District to repeal Obamacare and support patient-centered health care reform. Obamacare must not remain the law of the land.
Again, thank you for the benefit of your comments. Please feel free to contact me whenever I may be of assistance.
With kind regards.
Member of Congress