So, I made phone calls and sent emailS regarding the impending passage of Trumpcare on 23 and 24 March encouraging my member of congress in the House of Representatives. I encouraged Rep. Jim Renacci, to stand up and not throw thousands of his constituents, including veterans, under the bus by replacing the Affordable Care Act with the Draconian Trumpcare monstrosity. Trumpcare did not come to a vote, which President Donald John Trump hilariously blamed on the Democrats, and Renacci was seemingly let off the hook. This evening I received this response:
April 5, 2017
Thank you for contacting me regarding the American Health Care Act. Your views are important to me as I work to effectively represent you and Ohio’s 16th Congressional District.
Like you may have been aware, I was frustrated with the process behind The American Health Care Act and wanted to take some time to outline what happened with a failed vote.
The AHCA was introduced to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with a patient-centered healthcare system. Most importantly, it would have repealed the punitive individual and employer mandate, enhanced and expanded the use of Health Savings Accounts, and replaced Obamacare’s subsidies with an age-based, advanceable, refundable tax credit for those who do not qualify for job-based coverage, Medicare, or Medicaid.
Now, what happened—We have 435 members who all believe they have a better idea or solution. Everyone thinks they have a better idea, but no one wants to agree on a solution. The President did a tremendous job negotiating with lawmakers to find a solution. However, one caucus wanted even more. They then asked to include the repeal of Title I provisions, such as denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions, allowing children to stay on their parents insurance until they turn 26, and annual limits on healthcare. These ever changing negotiations, compounded with the distrust of House leadership’s guidance on what could be included in the first step to repeal and replace Obamacare, caused the process known as reconciliation to fail.
However, this is only part one of a three part series. In part two, the Department of Health and Human Services would have lifted many of the layers of regulations that Obamacare has imposed on our physicians and providers. The final part of our reform would have included additional bills to further stabilize the markets and decrease premiums. It is important to realize that a repeal and replace without going through reconciliation required 60 votes in the Senate. When the House passed a repeal in past years, it was never taken up by the Senate.
The best way to understand this convoluted process is to explain what reconciliation is. Most of you know the word to mean ‘the act of getting two things to be compatible with one another.’ However, that’s classically impossible on Capitol Hill. So, for us members, we use the term as a special legislative process intended to help make tax and spending changes. Each year, the House and Senate pass a budget, or at least we work to do so. Within the budget is a tool that allows certain changes, not policy changes, to be made with a simple majority vote in the Senate. This budget maneuver is how we planned on repealing Obamacare. We were using reconciliation as a first step, removing taxes and some mandates that are causing premiums to skyrocket and then replacing this with the AHCA. This process only needed 216 House members and 51 senators to occur, and remember, it was only the first step of a three step process.
In conclusion, while I supported the bill at the time, I am aware that the legislation is far from perfect and that the process could have been improved drastically. Some will say the AHCA went too far, and others will say the AHCA does not go far enough. Some will say we should have just repealed the ACA without a replacement. However, if Congress proceeded to repeal without a guaranteed replacement, then the insurance markets could be in grave danger with such uncertainty and could only expedite the “death spiral”. It is important to recognize the delicate process and opportunity that we had as Congress to rescue and deliver relief to the American people from the failures of the ACA. Unfortunately, a compromise was not met.
I believe it’s critical that Washington continues working to craft replacement legislation for the ACA, which is currently collapsing and sticking millions of Americans with unaffordable premiums and sham insurance plans that offer no actual care as a result of their astonishingly high deductibles. The American people deserve far better, and I’m committed to continuing this fight on behalf of all of my constituents.
Thank you again for sharing your thoughts with me on this issue. I look forward to continue working on bringing much needed reforms to our broken health care system and bending the cost-curve by addressing the true cost driver of health care in the U.S. In the future I encourage you to visit my website www.renacci.house.gov where you can email me any other concerns that you have. If you would like to stay up to date with what I am doing in the 16th District and in Washington, follow me on Facebook and Twitter to receive frequent updates.
Congressman Jim Renacci
Member of Congress