Email #12, Subject: Social Security Reform Act

I just read that Texas Republican Sam Johnson introduced a new bill last week called the Social Security Reform Act. You said in your email to me that you were interested in bi-partisan solutions, which Johnson’s bill is not. It adds no new funding to Social Security and significantly decreases benefits. It does not increase the cap on Social Security pay-ins by workers as suggested by Democrats. The Johnson plan also eliminates taxes on benefits for high-income retirees. Since you said you favor bi-partisan approaches, you must be aware of the Social Security reform plan proposed by the Bipartisan Policy Center last summer. It’s the sort of commonsense, common-ground thinking this country desperately needs right now. And unless you were only pretending to care about bi-partisanism in your email, I assume this is exactly the sort of plan you support. It raises benefits for low-income workers and lowers benefits for wealthier retirees. So where exactly do you stand on the Social Security Reform Act and the Bipartisan Policy Center plan?

Chris Gavaler

Email #11, Subject: bi-partisan

Thank you so much for your thoughtful response to my earlier emails regarding health care. I appreciate your attention and your bi-partisan tone. Identifying the range of years of rising health care costs, 1980-2010, places responsibility on both parties. And of course you say it outright: “Congress needs to work in a bi-partisan fashion to find a solution that would allow health care to be affordable for all Americans.” But as much as I appreciate that tone and sentiment, the Empowering Patients First Act and your support of it are anything but bi-partisan. This legislation is an opposite example of the two parties working together, so I’m confused why and disturbed that you implied that it is. I vastly prefer your tone over President-elect Trump’s or Speaker Ryan’s, but if you use that tone to mask opposite intentions and behavior, how are you better? You closed by saying, “I am working towards a bi-partisan solution to solve the problem of unaffordable health care.” Could you please explain in what sense that solution is bi-partisan?

Chris Gavaler

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

Email #10, Subject: What happened to the GOP 1990s health care plan?

Please correct me if I’m wrong, but since you’ve been in office since the 90s, I assume you voted against the health care program that President Clinton tried to get passed back then. As part of the GOP opposition, you must have also endorsed the health care program Speaker Gingrich presented as an alternative to Clinton’s plan. It included a way to prevent freeloaders from bankrupting health care for everyone else, something we still need. Since you are now seeking to end Obamacare, why don’t you go back to your old 90s plan? Since it was written by Republicans it must be better than the Democrats’ plan. I would love to know more about it. And since you are one of only a handful of GOP Representatives still in office from twenty years ago, you are the ideal person to give Congress and the country a history lesson. Would you please do that? Would you tell the country about the GOP health care plan and how it’s different from Obamacare?

Chris Gavaler

Email #9, Subject: New Cold War

I read in the Washington Post that the CIA has now officially concluded that Russia “intervened in the 2016 election to help Donald Trump win the presidency.” This is a massive fact. A foreign power, the former “Evil Empire” that battled the U.S. in a half century of Cold War conflicts, hacked our country and then used its hacked information to elect the candidate who made repeated pro-Putin statements against the candidate who made repeated anti-Putin statements. If this had happened in the 50s or 60s or 70s or 80s, it would have been enough to start World War III. It certainly would have gotten GOP leaders talking openly about direct retaliation, military and otherwise. The GOP will now run every branch of our government, so it’s up to you to act. How are you responding to this extraordinary act of Russian aggression? How are you going to fight this New Cold War?

Chris Gavaler

Email #8, Subject: checking executive overreach

You said “checking executive overreach” was one of your six priorities after you got reelected. I understand how that’s a useful slogan while there’s a Democrat in the White House, but was it just talk?  I’m scared of Donald Trump. Many of the things he’s promised to do would require massive executive overreach, so say nothing of the overt conflicts of interests that his businesses create. Are you really going to “fight” to check him, or does that only matter when the overreach is by a Democratic president? I’m so tired of politicians mouthing empty words. Is that all you’re doing, or will you actually do what you say? Where do you draw the line with Trump? Define “overreach” so we can know exactly what you mean and can see you live by it.

Chris Gavaler

Email #7, Subject: balanced budget amendment

You said in your acceptance statement that a balanced budget amendment is one of your biggest priorities. That’s fine by me. But isn’t that the opposite of what President Trump is planning? I heard he wants to cut taxes and also raise spending with infrastructure projects. Isn’t that the opposite of balancing the budget? You said a balanced budget, not tax cuts and not increased spending, was at the very top of your list. So how are you going to do that? If GOP leaders hand you an unbalanced budget, are you going to vote against it? You said you were going to “fight” for a balanced budget. Please explain exactly what that means.

Chris Gavaler