One of the most important issues facing our country is our health care crisis. The average American family spends 50 times more on health care than they did in 1950. Individuals, families, and small businesses cannot survive under the crushing weight of anticipated health care costs. To solve this problem, I am supportive of health care solutions designed to drive down costs through choice and competition, such as allowing individuals to buy insurance across state lines, bringing doctors and patients closer together, and making our healthcare system more focused on outcomes instead of procedures.
Since coming to Congress, one of my main areas of focus has been on working to ensure that we have an affordable, patient-centered health care system that all Americans can use, especially those in rural areas – like so much of the 8th district – who often find access to care to be challenging.
The President’s Health Care Law (PPACA)
While I firmly believe we need to reform our healthcare system, I do not think that the Patient Protection And Affordable Care Act (PPACA) that President Obama signed into law is the right answer. This $2.6 trillion healthcare law has proven ineffective in lowering healthcare costs and premiums, is hurting small businesses and economic growth, and may cause millions of people to lose their current health coverage.
I strongly support healthcare reforms that lower costs and increase the quality of care and there are small parts of this bill with which I agree. Allowing children to stay on their parents’ plan longer and barring insurance companies from denying coverage for preexisting conditions are two examples of good parts of this bill. However, good legislation cannot come from 2,000 page bills that few have read or can even understand. The healthcare bill needs to be replaced with productive reforms that actually attack the cause of our problem: the rising costs of healthcare products and services
Repeal of PPACA
PPACA’s effects on our health care system and economy are already proving to be damaging, as employers are fearful to expand because of PPACA’s employer mandates. This is why one of the first votes I took when I came to Congress was to vote for H.R. 2, a bill that repeals PPACA. Since then, I have voted numerous times to prohibit funding from being used to implement the law, and have voted to defund certain sections of the law. I am also a cosponsor of a bill that modifies spending in PPACA that is currently set to go up automatically and requires Congress to review and approve it each year instead.
PPACA and the Economy
I believe that PPACA is having a detrimental effect on job creators, mainly as a result of the employer mandate. This is why I cosponsored H.R. 1744, the American Job Protection Act. This bill will repeal the burdensome employer mandate that is stifling job creation. Beginning in 2014, employers with 50 or more employees must offer their full time employees healthcare coverage or pay a fine. The new mandate is causing job creators to be wary of growing beyond the 50-employee threshold for fear of being penalized by the federal government. At a time of high unemployment, we should be encouraging our job creators to expand their businesses, instead of putting in place onerous mandates that impede growth.
Medical Malpractice Reform
In order to control healthcare costs, we must implement medical malpractice reform. According to Harvard University, medical malpractice costs $55 billion a year, constituting 2.4 percent of healthcare spending. This is why I cosponsored H.R. 5, the HEALTH Act. H.R. 5 places a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages, places limits on the contingency fees that lawyers can charge, and allows for defendants to require plaintiffs to show that they received compensation from outside sources to prevent double recoveries.
Health Equity Act
In July, I introduced the Health Equity Act of 2011 (H.R. 2662). H.R. 2662 helps to lift the weight of health care costs placed on families and small businesses by amending the tax code to allow individuals and sole proprietors to deduct the cost of their health insurance from their gross income…just like corporations get to do today. This bill will help to bring down health care costs for over 22 million self-employed Americans as well as the millions of individuals who purchase their own health insurance. I believe it is a first step in developing a health care system where the patient is closer to the doctor and is able to get the coverage and care they need.