Congressman Doug LaMalfa (R-Richvale) issued the following statement after the House passed an amended version of H.R. 1628, the American Health Care Act.
LaMalfa said: “Here’s what we know: Obamacare is collapsing. Insurance providers are pulling out of the exchanges, premiums are continuing to skyrocket, and choices for Americans are dwindling – and it will only get worse. Unfortunately, the reality is that too many young and healthy individuals are deciding they’d rather pay the penalty than sign up for care, citing financial barriers and lack of choice. A 28 year old making $45,000 a year with no major health concerns is not going to pay upwards of $400 a month for a plan that does not even work for them. And they are not alone. In fact, in 2015, 7.5 million people chose to pay the penalty rather than purchase coverage. That same year, over 12 million filed for hardship exemptions. That’s nearly 20 million people that actively are not in the market today. This causes premiums in the individual market to continue to rise, leaving middle income families struggling to afford their monthly payments, while providers continue to drop out, citing costs, and leaving residents with even fewer choices. Premiums are up 25% nationally and predicted to continue to rise, while one third of counties will have just one insurer this year.
From my very first day in Congress, the constituents of Northern California have pleaded that we get this law repealed and replaced with something that actually works for them. We also know that there will be no help from Democrats, forcing us to use the budget reconciliation process which requires only 51 votes in the Senate as opposed to 60 - Republicans have 52 votes. The Senate Parliamentarian requires every measure to have a budgetary effect. Without budget reconciliation, this bill would need 60 votes to pass and would be dead upon arrival in the Senate – sticking Americans with the high costs of Obamacare for another year. This was our one and only shot to get this done using the budget reconciliation process.
The rules of reconciliation force the House to be cautious not to exceed parliamentary guidelines, but the Senate will have significantly more flexibility in their own chamber to test parliamentary limits. Simultaneously, we passed legislation today that will ensure Members of Congress and staff are subject to the same healthcare options as the constituents they serve. This bill is not a finished product, but it’s a start. The American Healthcare Act is a positive step that will ultimately return the freedom of choice back to the patient.”
The Budget Reconciliation Process
The Senate requires 60 votes to waive a point of order, as compared to the 51-vote threshold for a budget reconciliation bill. Reconciliation measures are intended to implement budget resolutions, and the “Byrd rule” allows Senators to raise a point of order against any provision that is “extraneous” to reconciliation legislation. This includes measures that do not have a budgetary effect, measures where the budgetary effects are “merely incidental” to the policy objective, or measures that involve the jurisdictions of committees without reconciliation instructions. The Senate Parliamentarian may determine that a base bill that contains a substantial number of Byrd violations is not privileged and thus must be considered under a 60-vote threshold. The Senate Parliamentarian does not rule on the parliamentary inquiries of Members of the House, but the House has attempted to comply with the Byrd rule based on guidance from the Senate Budget Committee, among others.
Ø Helps to expand our economy and create jobs by providing relief from the employer mandate that California small businesses have been asking for since the ACA became law.
Ø Repeals the individual mandate, currently forcing Americans to pay skyrocketing premiums for a plan they may not even want or pay a steep penalty.
Ø Repeals job killing, and costly taxes such as the medical device tax, prescription drug tax, health insurance tax, and Cadillac tax.
Ø Provides refundable tax credits, designed to give people in the individual market who don’t receive employer sponsored care the same tax benefits as those who do. This way, individuals and families receive an advanceable credit, meaning they have the money when they need to purchase a plan, valued from $2,000 to $14,000 based on age, household, and income, so they can afford coverage that meets their needs.
Ø Expands tax-free Health Savings Accounts, a tool that gives Americans the opportunity to save their money pre-tax then also have control over how they spend these health care dollars, such as for medication or co-pays. This bill nearly doubles the contribution limit to $6,550 for individuals and $13,100 for families.
Ø Authorizes $100 billion in grant funding for states under the Patient and State Stability Fund to help lower costs and increase access to care. States can determine how the funds are used to meet the needs of their residents, including providing financial assistance for high cost individuals, reducing out of pocket costs, incentivizing insurer participation in rural areas to drive up competition, reducing the cost of insurance, and promoting access to preventives services.
Facts of the American Health Care Act
Ø Will ensure that those receiving Medi-Cal benefits continue to receive them.
Ø Protects individuals with pre-existing conditions.
Ø Allows young adults under 26 to remain on their parents’ healthcare plan.
Ø There will be no reductions for children’s healthcare in California.
Ø H.R. 2192 ensures coverage options for members of congress and their staff should be on the same basis as what is available to their constituents.