By Congressman Dave Brat (R, VA-7)
Excerpt from “Friends of Dave Brat, Inc.” message dated May 8, 2017
Last week, Congress faced two important votes with enormous implications to the Trump agenda, as well as you and your family. My votes reflect the reason I ran for Congress in the first place—to move the needle towards less government control of our everyday lives. I explain the rationale behind each vote in detail below.
The Budget Deal: A continuation of the status quo
Media reports called the $1.1 trillion government funding bill signed Wednesday in the House “rare bipartisan achievement on Capitol Hill.” But, when Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi are grinning from ear to ear, it’s easy to see who came out on top in the budget agreement. Not the American people, who sent Republican majorities to DC to drain the swamp of special interest politics and back room deals with taxpayer money.
That’s why so many Republican voters were left scratching their heads, given that they put Republicans in control of Congress and the White House for a purpose. And that purpose was not a budget deal that surrenders to the left and falls short on virtually every conservative policy position.
The budget agreement is a byproduct of the swamp of special interests, and that is not good news for the next generation who, once again, has been left holding the bag of broken promises. Our country is already $20 trillion in debt. And, with $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities, it’s not looking good when the fundamentals aren’t changing now that Republicans are in control. Adding more runaway spending to be passed on to the next generation is not draining the swamp, it is a continuation of the status quo from the previous Administration.
Incredibly, not only is there no funding for the border wall—Trump’s most prolific campaign promise—the bill actually prohibits money from being spent on the wall. But that is about the only thing that’s prohibited in the spending bill. Money for sanctuary cities? In the bill. Money to fund 99% of the EPA’s agenda? In the bill. Money for refugee programs? In the bill. An increase to the H-2B visa program? In the bill. Funding for the unconstitutional Consumer Financial Protection Bureau—in the bill. There’s even funding for California’s high-speed rail. Yep, that’s in the bill.
The deal violates Republican Party principles not here and there—but everywhere.
As an economist who wants our next generation to be able to succeed and prosper in an economy full of opportunity, I could not support the budget deal. It’s time for hard choices. We must do much better.
The bill funds the federal government only through the end of September. That means we need to start working with no delay to move quickly to appropriations legislation for the next fiscal year. It’s time for Republicans to lead on a real America First agenda that ensures we are funding the priorities of the American people, not the DC swamp.
On a positive note, Washington, DC, is hearing the feedback, so keep up the pressure for us to get it right so we can turn it around.
The GOP Healthcare bill: Reviving competition
On Thursday, I joined my House colleagues voting yes on the GOP healthcare bill. With key insurers pulling out of the Obamacare markets here in Virginia due to unsustainable losses—leaving 25 Virginia counties with only one insurance provider—there is no debate that Obamacare is failing. Action needed to be taken. Democrats offered no plan of their own, choosing instead to criticize Republican efforts to bring relief for those hurting the most from skyrocketing premiums and deductibles.My vote was about keeping the promise I made to my constituents to work towards lowering healthcare costs and returning healthcare decision-making back to consumers. Make no mistake, I understand that this bill falls far, far short of the Obamacare repeal that I have always supported. What it does do is roll back Obamacare’s mandates and repeal its economy crippling taxes. It also blocks federal payments to Planned Parenthood for one year. The GOP bill will reduce the power of the federal government, and pulls back on the left’s attempt to move a nation rooted in free enterprise into Washington controlled, socialized medicine. The left has stated this goal in public, so it’s not mere speculation.
A single-payer healthcare plan, a universal healthcare plan. That’s what I’d like to see. But as all of you know, we may not get there immediately. Because first we’ve got to take back the White House, we’ve got to take back the Senate, and we’ve got to take back the House.—Barack Obama, 2003
When the leaders of the Democrat party have made it known that their ultimate goal is a single payer system, it isn’t a stretch to see that Obamacare was intentionally written in a way so that insurers would leave, and it would fail and lead to one-size-fits-all government run healthcare.
Now that Republicans are trying to put some stability back in the insurance market, the hysteria is at a fever pitch. This is all by design on the Democrats part. They want to keep going down the road to failure they’ve put into place, and the sooner the better in their view.
The center of the debate is focused on preexisting condition coverage. In order to make sense of the debate, you need to understand the difference between healthcare and health insurance. They are not the same thing. Health insurance is risk management. Insurance is what you buy to protect you from an unforeseen event. Obamacare was not health insurance, it was healthcare coverage, and from a coverage standpoint only, it did a decent job of that. But, because it allowed people to sign up for “insurance” only when they became ill, costs spiraled out of control—and this was predicted from the outset. It made little sense for young healthy people to pay for “insurance” that they could buy only when they needed it. For the people who receive subsidies to buy their coverage, it’s a good deal. For those who have skyrocketing premiums and deductibles so high they are useless, it is not just a bad deal, it is financially devastating.
The GOP healthcare plan brings relief to both sides in the debate. For those who like their current coverage, we are saving the insurance market from a death spiral. For those who want more choice and less cost—and this is most of America—by reinserting some free market into the mix, we will start to see premiums come down and insurers competing for your healthcare dollars. The Freedom Caucus worked hard to make sure there are mechanisms in the bill to deliver more competition and lower costs—without that the bill would not have earned our support. And, this is very important, for those who are concerned about preexisting condition coverage, here is the key point: as long as you maintain your healthcare coverage, you will not lose that coverage or be charged a higher premium due to your illness. Now, let’s tie this back to the concept of insurance. To keep costs down for everyone, our bill does not allow someone to only sign up for “insurance” when they become ill. So, we wrote the bill in a way to discourage people from abusing the system.
The bottom line is that the over-the-top rhetoric being used by the Democrats right now is just the politics of fear—a scare tactic. Right now we are being inundated with viral fake news memes and a disinformation campaign from the left to try to keep up from moving forward. In Sunday’s Richmond Times Dispatch article, mental health issues are specifically mentioned. The GOP healthcare bill includes $15 billion specifically toward mental health and substance abuse disorders. Also, Congress recently passed the 21st Century Cures Act, which includes a comprehensive mental health package for patients fighting mental health conditions, battling substance use disorders, and family members supporting them in that fight. Those facts are not included in the article, but as I’m quoted in the piece “Truth is a casualty of D.C. politics.”
Over the past two months I have been out front predicting that this bill would pass, and explaining in detail the Freedom Caucus’ tireless efforts to improve the bill. Some in the media labeled us “obstructionists,” but our work made the bill better by finding a way to reduce out-of-control premiums, and led to this step forward towards our ultimate goal of fully repealing Obamacare—the biggest taxing scheme in our nation’s history. Take a look at the list of taxes eliminated by the GOP healthcare bill:
- Abolishes the Obamacare Individual Mandate Tax which hits 8 million Americans each year.
- Abolishes the Obamacare Employer Mandate Tax. Together with repeal of the Individual Mandate Tax repeal this is a $270 billion tax cut.
- Abolishes Obamacare’s Medicine Cabinet Tax which hits 20 million Americans with Health Savings Accounts and 30 million Americans with Flexible Spending Accounts. This is a $6 billion tax cut.
- Abolishes Obamacare’s Flexible Spending Account tax on 30 million Americans. This is a $20 billion tax cut.
- Abolishes Obamacare’s Chronic Care Tax on 10 million Americans with high out of pocket medical expenses. This is a $126 billion tax cut.
- Abolishes Obamacare’s HSA withdrawal tax. This is a $100 million tax cut.
- Abolishes Obamacare’s 10% excise tax on small businesses with indoor tanning services. This is a $600 million tax cut.
- Abolishes the Obamacare health insurance tax. This is a $145 billion tax cut.
- Abolishes the Obamacare 3.8% surtax on investment income. This is a $172 billion tax cut.
- Abolishes the Obamacare medical device tax. This is a $20 billion tax cut.
- Abolishes the Obamacare tax on prescription medicine. This is a $28 billion tax cut.
- Abolishes the Obamacare tax on retiree prescription drug coverage. This is a $2 billion tax cut.
More about preexisting condition coverage in the GOP healthcare bill
“I have a pre-existing medical condition.
What will happen to me under the GOP Healthcare bill?”
· You can’t be denied coverage.
· You won’t be charged higher premiums if you maintain coverage.
· You have options even if you don’t maintain coverage.
· You’ll have the benefit of other reforms to lower costs and increase yourchoices.
Insurance companies will not be able to refuse coverage because of an illness. The House plan maintains “guaranteed issue” that requires insurers to cover individuals regardless of health status. Insurers will not be able to charge you higher premiums due to your illness, as long as you continue to have health insurance and aren’t without it for more than 63 days of the year. The plan is written this way to prevent people from going without insurance with the intention of only signing up for coverage once they become ill.
If you were to go without insurance for more than 63 days, you still cannot be denied insurance. However, insurers will place a 30 percent surcharge on your premium for one year unless you are in a state that receives a waiver. The surcharge doesn’t discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions because it also applies to healthy individuals. If you live in a state that has applied for a waiver to define their own essential health benefits, no surcharge applies but insurers can charge higher premiums based on your health status. This health status rating would only apply during the year following your lapse in coverage.
Right after the House bill passed, I joined Jeff Katz to talk about what’s next as the House bill moves to the Senate. In case you missed it, you can listen to our discussion here.