Friday, March 14, 2014

Republicans have a plan for health care


After being accused of lying in this paper by reader Dr. Elliott Mercer on Feb. 26, I felt the need to respond.
    First, Dr. Mercer accused me of lying about my statement that only 35 percent of Americans support Obamacare. I was referring to a major poll done by CNN at the end of last year that found only 35 percent support for the law. In a more recent poll by Kaiser, only 35 percent of Americans expressed a favorable view of it.  Dr. Mercer is certainly welcome to his opinions, but not his facts.  Like many supporters of the Obama administration, he appears unwilling to accept the law’s unpopularity across the country.
    Dr. Mercer goes on to ask where I and my fellow Republicans were during the healthcare debate several years ago. The answer is, we were locked outside in the hall while Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid and President Obama and the Democratic majorities wrote the law as they saw fit. They ignored or rejected all Republican efforts to improve the bill. At the time, I was advocating for the same policies I support today. Unfortunately, Obamacare is the law, and it will have to be repealed before those policies can be implemented effectively.
    Finally, he asks that instead of just being part of the problem, I should become part of the solution. On that I strongly agree. The Republican Party cannot simply be the “party of no” and expect to win elections or inspire Americans to listen to their ideas. That is why I have, for the last several years, spelled out specifically which policies I support in place of Obamacare.
    Dr. Mercer doesn’t seem to be aware of my support for these policies, so let me briefly list them. 
·First, we must fully repeal Obamacare.
·Expand access to Health Savings Accounts by increasing the amount of pre-tax dollars individuals can place into their account to cover health care expenses.
·Create competition by allowing insurance to be purchased across state lines and enables small businesses to pool together to increase their buying power.
·Equalize tax treatment for those who purchase health insurance through the individual market and those who receive a plan through their employer. This standard deduction would result in a tax cut for most Americans.
·Protect individuals with pre-existing conditions against discrimination and allow young people to stay on their parents plans for longer (both of these were included in Obamacare, but remember, they increase the cost of insurance, they don’t reduce it!).
·Reform medical malpractice laws to limit economic damages and trail lawyer fees while still protecting patients.

    There is a bill in the House called the American Health Care Reform Act which does all these things. I am a cosponsor of this bill, as are 126 of my colleagues (the media has also chosen to ignore this bill).  It would institute real reform by reducing health care costs, protecting medical professionals and increasing access to care.
    There are many other policies that I support, including prescription drug re-importation, which would control prescription drug costs by allowing Americans to buy FDA-approved prescription drugs from places such as Canada and Europe where drugs are sold for much less money. I have also supported legislation to repeal exemptions for insurance companies from federal antitrust laws, eliminate taxes on medical devices, and lift the ban on rural hospitals’ ability to obtain discounts for “orphan drugs.”
     These are not new ideas—and many of them already have support on both sides of the aisle, and should be implemented as soon as Obamacare is repealed by Congress.
     I respect Dr. Mercer’s opinion. As a medical professional, he has seen many of the challenges facing our health system first hand, and I have no doubt he has devoted his life to his patients. That being said, I hope he would do his research before accusing me of lying to Idahoans. 
     Moving forward, I am going to continue to advocate a full repeal of Obamacare, as well as support policies that will return health care decisions back into the hands of patients, families, and doctors—not government bureaucrats.

Congressman Mike Simpson, a Republican, represents Idaho’s 2nd Congressional District, which includes Blaine County.

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