By STEVEN PENN
Hendricks County Flyer
— Todd Rokita, U.S. Representative from District 4, was part of a study committee tasked with finding an alternative to the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.
Obamacare, which began open enrollment on Oct. 1 for the health insurance exchanges, has now been thrust even further into the public eye following the government shutdown currently taking place.
The Republican Study Committee (RSC) consisted of Chairman Steve Scalise, Working Group Chairman Dr. Phil Roe, Rep. Marsha Blackburn, Rep. Renee Ellmers, Rep. John Fleming, Rep. Paul Gosar, and Rokita.
Their answer to Obamacare, House Bill 3121, was dubbed the American Health Care Reform Act.
Rokita said talks began early this year about finding a more palatable answer to Obamacare.
“That doesn’t mean that the ideas that we have that were put down were just started to be talked about at the beginning of the year,” he said. “These are ideas, frankly, that have been around and that have been talked about either singly, or as part of … going all the way back to when Obamacare was passed. A lot of these ideas were filed as a substitute then. What we wanted to do was put them together as a package and really come out with a comprehensive … replacement product … for Obamacare.”
Rokita said people need to understand what they’re getting with Obamacare.
“As the light bulbs continue to go on minute after minute … around the country, about how bad and insidious this law is and how expensive it is and the jobs it’s starting to hurt and it’s moving people from full time to part time, we think it’s important that people start to really understand what their intention is focused on out there as it affects their own bottom line and their own well-being,” he said.
Rokita added that it’s important for citizens to be able to say “No” to Obamacare, but then to also have another more feasible option.
“We think it’s important to let them know what could be,” he said. “It’s just not good enough to say, ‘No, no, no.’ It’s important to say ‘No’ to such a bad law, but it’s also imperative that we say what it could be like if you follow a market driven, consumer driven, patient centered model, rather than this one size government-knows-best model.”
According to information released about the bill, the RSC’s proposal will:
• Fully repeal President Obama’s health care law, which would eliminate billions in taxes and thousands of pages of unworkable regulations and mandates that are driving up health care costs;
• Spur competition to lower health care costs by allowing Americans to purchase health insurance across state lines and enabling small businesses to pool together and get the same buying power as large corporations;
• Reform medical malpractice laws in a commonsense way that limits trial lawyer fees and non-economic damages while maintaining strong protections for patients;
• Provide tax reforms that will allow families and individuals to deduct health care costs, just like companies, leveling the playing field and providing all Americans with a standard deduction for health insurance;
• Expand access to Health Savings Accounts (HSAs), increasing the amount of pre-tax dollars individuals can deposit into portable savings accounts to be used for health care expenses;
• Safeguard individuals with pre-existing conditions from being discriminated against purchasing health insurance by bolstering state-based high risk pools and extending HIPAA guaranteed availability protections; and
• Protects the unborn by ensuring no federal funding of abortions.
Rokita said he wanted to put “special emphasis” on lowering health care costs naturally by competition and allowing small businesses to pool together.
He also noted that allowing individuals to receive tax deductions was another major point.
“Tax deduction will be focused away from the employer and on the individual, because that will give us affordability,” Rokita said of the plan. “Once the individual is incentivized, not just the employer … it’s more likely that the individual will have insurance follow them.”
Rokita made the first public presentation of the American Health Care Reform Act at the recent Indiana State Medical Association (ISMA) convention downtown and said the crowd responded with a standing ovation.
The ISMA body followed with an emergency resolution to support the bill, which passed on Sept. 22.
In addition, the bill also has national support, Rokita said.
He said it could be a few years before anything is done, but what’s important is that this bill is now part of the national discussion.
“(Obamacare) is not going to be around much longer and we want to be in a position to, again, make sure the American people know what could be if they got behind it and supported it,” he said.