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Congressman Tom Garrett

Representing the 5th District of Virginia

Understanding the GOP's healthcare legislation

February 20, 2017
Columns

Last week House Republicans put forward a plan to replace the un-Affordable Care Act. When President Obama and Congressional Democrats first sought to pass Obamacare, they told us we ‘needed to pass the bill to find out what was in it.’ Well we found out what was in it and we saw families lose their plans and their doctors – even the ones they liked and wanted to keep. We saw businesses struggle to decide between cutting employees or destroying their bottom lines by complying with the mandates. We saw many individuals who gained coverage through the ACA essentially without insurance as the deductibles are beyond the reach of low-income workers.

For years, many of our Representatives have voiced their displeasure with this failed legislation but have done little in the way of putting forward a viable alternative. As such, I was proud to stand with Senator Rand Paul and other members of the House to introduce the Obamacare Replacement Act.

Specifically, this legislation aims to insure the most people at the lowest possible price. Components include legalizing affordable insurance plans that prohibit restrictive coverage that under Obamacare have forced people to purchase plans for services they do not need. It also expands access to Health Savings Accounts to encourage cost-conscious consumer behavior. Further, the Obamacare Replacement Act increases state Medicaid flexibility by allowing states to develop innovative Medicaid designs which will increase coverage and lower overall costs, among other things.

One of the most important features of this plan is that it protects individuals with pre-existing conditions. Under this plan, a two-year open enrollment period is provided where individuals with pre-existing conditions are able to obtain coverage. It also restores federal prohibitions against discrimination towards individuals with pre-existing conditions.

I would also like to highlight one specific portion of the plan because I believe it’s illustrious to the process that has occurred in crafting this legislation.

To quote Robert Gibbs, former President Obama’s Press Secretary: “At its core, healthcare reform is about ensuring families and businesses have more choices, benefit from more competition, and have greater control over their healthcare.” This was in reference to the repeal of McCarran-Ferguson.

Another relevant quote came from former 5th District Democrat Congressman Tom Perriello when he said, “It’s time for Washington to decide whether we stand with patients or profiteering – whether we believe in market competition or collusion between politicians and insurance monopolies.” This also was in reference to the repeal of McCarran-Ferguson.

What you will see in this bill, is that we have included language for the repeal of McCarran-Ferguson because we acknowledge there is no monopoly on good ideas and this isn’t about advancing a partisan agenda, it’s about fixing the problems of healthcare that we have seen in recent years. Specifically, this aspect of the bill reforms existing anti-trust laws to ensure that health insurance companies create greater competition across state lines to drive down prices for consumers.

In the months to come, I look forward to working with members of both parties and hearing concerns from residents from both the 5th District and across this country to put together the most affordable, accessible, and quality healthcare options for everyone.

To learn more about this plan, please contact my office by visiting www.tomgarrett.house.gov or call 202-225-4711.

- Tom Garrett