There is currently a lot of talk in Congress about repealing the ACA (or Obamacare). The problem as I see it, they have not put forth a viable alternative. They have said they have a better option, but (from what I know) we have yet to see any specifics. And yet, there is a bill being introduced right now (HR 175) cosponsored by my Congressman Justin Amash to repeal the ACA.
Now, I know that the ACA is not perfect. But I don't believe that repealing it without first even discussing what will take its place is ill advised. Stupid actually. Leave the ACA in place until such a time as the Republican plan can be read, investigated and discussed. Then, if it is a better plan, move forward.
I for one, am an advocate of a Single Payer system, but that is a discussion for another day.
Here is my email to Mr. Amash. I invite you to ask him about this as well.
Hello Mr. Amash -
I see that you are a cosponsor of bill HR 175 - Repeal Obamacare Act. I am writing to urge you to rethink your position.
My father was paying over $600 a month for health insurance from his employer. Once the ACA kicked in his premium was reduced to $77 a month for the same coverage. This year already his premiums have risen to $101 a month. I can see those returning to the $600+ cost each month with an ACA repeal. I urge you to not continue on this path. The repeal of the ACA will hurt a lot of hard working Americans.
I understand you and your fellow Republicans say you have a better plan. But I have not seen any details of such a plan and until you release very specific details about how you will replace the ACA, I strongly urge you to not put the cart before the horse. If you really do have a better option, I am all for it. But let's see the details first, BEFORE you dissemble the current law.
I look forward to your reply with specific details about why you are cosponsoring this bill and what you intend to replace it with. Please do not send me a form letter email. This is too important for that.
I will update this post when I get a response.
Here is the response I reviewed from Mr. Amash:
January 17, 2017
Dear Mr. Clements,
Thank you for contacting my office regarding Obamacare. I appreciate hearing from you on this issue.
Health care in the United States has grown increasingly expensive and inaccessible. Obamacare makes these problems worse, not better.
Health care costs are rising out of control because insurance companies, employers, and the government—not patients—control payment decisions. This system limits the choices available to patients, insulates them from the real costs of the available choices, makes health care providers less responsive to patients, and interferes with patients’ ability to control their own health care decisions in consultation with their medical providers.
These problems are only becoming worse under Obamacare. Although I have heard from constituents who are being helped by specific elements of Obamacare, I am also hearing from numerous constituents whose families are losing their current insurance policies and access to physicians, and who are facing drastically higher insurance costs.
Fundamentally, this system’s economic model does not work and makes it unresponsive to the needs of patients. It cannot improve the overall quality, availability, or affordability of medical care for the American people.
Our entire health care system needs reform, and I support finding ways to provide catastrophic health care coverage to people who can’t afford it, while maintaining a market-based system that provides choices and high-quality, affordable health care. The only way to get patient-centered health care reform is to repeal Obamacare and start over.
I have supported legislation to repeal Obamacare, including H.R. 596, which passed the House of Representatives on February 3, 2015. In addition, I supported H.R. 3762, which would have repealed major portions of Obamacare. This bill passed the House of Representatives and theSenate but was vetoed by President Obama on January 8, 2016.
I will keep your concerns in mind as I continue to monitor policy on these issues. Thank you again for contacting me, and please feel free to contact my office if I can be of further assistance.
After doing more digging, I found this article, again from the NY Times:
Seems the house has reversed it's vote after many contacts and letters from constituents. From the Times:
"...The reversal came less than 24 hours after House Republicans, meeting in a secret session, voted to curtail the powers of the Office of Congressional Ethics, an independent body created in 2008 after a series of scandals involving House lawmakers, including three who were sent to jail."
This proves to me that by being involved and contacting our Representatives, we can affect change. I will still post when I hear back from Mr. Amash. I am interested in how he voted on this.
Note: This was an issue I read about in December. I am happy it turned out this way, but a lesson for me to act on things sooner.
According to the NY Times: (www.nytimes.com/2017/01/02/us/politics/with-no-warning-house-republicans-vote-to-hobble-independent-ethics-office.html?_r=2) "House Republicans, overriding their top leaders, voted on Monday to significantly curtail the power of an independent ethics office set up in 2008..."
I have looked at the Congressional Record for confirmation, but haven't been able to find anything regarding this. I am guessing this has more to do with my lack of familiarity with the Record - I hope to learn how to find things easier moving forward.
My understanding is that they are removing the independent nature of the Committee on Ethics and claiming this will strenghten the Committee. According to Mr. Goodlatte's website:
"The Goodlatte amendment builds upon and strengthens the existing OCE by maintaining its primary area of focus – accepting and reviewing constituent complaints – while improving upon due process rights for individuals under investigation, as well as witnesses called to testify." (from goodlatte.house.gov/news/documentsingle.aspx?DocumentID=735)
I have sent an email to Jason Amash asking for clarification:
Dear Mr. Amash
I read in the NY Times about House Resolution 5 - also know as The Goodlatte Amendment regarding the Ethics Committee. I was unable to find anything about this on Congress.gov. I am sure that is more a result of my poor searching skills on the site, and not for lack of information. I would appreciate it if you could provide a link to any discussion on the record regarding this amendment.
I would like you to explain this amendment to me and how you voted. If it is true that this amendment removes the Committee's independence from Congressional oversize, that is troublesome to me.
I look forward to you response.
I will post any update I get.
It seems to me, any ethics committee must be independent of the ones they are overseeing. Otherwise it would be just for show, and not allow them to do their job. If it is true that this amemdment will strengthen the Committee, then I am for it. But that is not what many sources are claiming.