PAUL A. GOSAR, D.D.S.
Fourth District, Arizona
2057 Rayburn House Office Bldg
Washington, DC 20515
122 N. Cortez St., Ste. 104
Prescott, AZ 86301
6499 South Kings Ranch Road, Suite 4
Gold Canyon, AZ 85118
220 N. 4th St.
Kingman, AZ 86401
COMMITTEE ON OVERSIGHT
AND GOVERNMENT REFORM
Vice Chairman, Water,
Power and Oceans
Energy and Mineral Resources
Indian, Insular and
Alaska Native Affairs
May 23, 2017
Mr. Mark Reynolds
Star Valley, AZ 85541-3983
Dear Mr. Reynolds,
Thank you for contacting me regarding the American Health Care Act (AHCA). I appreciate your thoughts on this issue and welcome the opportunity to respond.
Before coming to Washington to be your member of Congress, I owned and operated a dental practice in Northern Arizona for more than 25 years. Serving the community as a health care provider, both by practicing dentistry as well as engaging in charitable and non-profit activities with other Arizona doctors and physicians, I know the best health care not only focuses on preventative services and wellness but also empowers the doctor-patient relationship by getting government and insurance regulation out of the way.
America needs health care reform to lower costs, increase access, and enhance patient choice. As your Congressman, I am committed to reform that is both patient-centered and market-based. That is why I strongly oppose the burdensome and costly regulations imposed by the Affordable Care Act (ACA), commonly known as Obamacare. Former President Obama’s colossal overhaul of the American health care system delivered 20,000 pages of regulations which have restricted choice, driven up insurance premiums and put bureaucrats between you and your doctor. The mandates and regulations included in this law have driven insurance companies out of the market and put millions of Americans at risk of losing their private, individual health insurance. Public opposition to Obamacare helped deliver victories to Republicans across the country with a mandate to repeal the law and replace it with common-sense policies that lower costs and improve access to care for average Americans.
On May 4th, 2017, the House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA) – a measure to begin the process of repealing and replacing Obamacare – with my support. I am going to tell Arizonans the truth about the updated version of the American Health Care Act: This bill is not a full repeal and replace of Obamacare. However, after working alongside my colleagues in the House Freedom Caucus, we have been able to secure Conservative changes to the bill that will immediately eliminate Obamacare taxes, lower health care premiums and offer more choices for Arizonans. Additionally, my support for AHCA was contingent upon not giving Members of Congress special treatment. Elected leaders must be subject to the same rules governing all Americans, and this important measure explicitly applies to this bill.
Conservatives worked tirelessly in the weeks preceding the House vote to make the AHCA better for the American people. In particular, the Freedom Caucus – following up on our earlier offer of a full repeal and replace plan – immediately got to work to mitigate problems within the original bill text. The new plan has updated language to immediately roll back stifling requirements while also protecting individuals with preexisting conditions. While this revised version still does not fully repeal Obamacare, my conservative colleagues and I support it as part of our promise to the American people to lower healthcare costs and make a down-payment on a full repeal. Millions of Americans are drowning right now under the tidal wave of Obamacare regulations and mandates that have destroyed our entire healthcare system. The American Health Care Act is a life raft to those suffering and represents real movement toward a true market-based solution.
One important policy change in this bill is the increase in state authority to drive down costs and tailor specific plans to the unique needs of their citizens. The MacArthur amendment will grant individual states the ability to effectively repeal cost-driving aspects of Obamacare not already addressed by the AHCA. Especially in the interim period before Obamacare can be fully repealed, this increased authority will empower states to free individuals, families and businesses from the most burdensome Obamacare regulations that drive up the cost of their premiums. The healthcare needs of Arizonans are often different from those of Alaskans, Californians or New Yorkers. This amendment respects those differences and allows individual state governments, not a disconnected federal bureaucracy, to make the critical decisions that impact healthcare.
It is important to set the record straight on two myths being perpetuated by special interest groups about the AHCA, specifically the updated age rating – the so-called “age tax” – and how patients with preexisting conditions receive insurance coverage. First, the age rating. The American Health Care Act restores market balance to the premiums charged for each age group. It stops the generational theft that Obamacare imposed upon the nation‘s young adults in an effort to disguise the price increases wreaking havoc on older Americans‘ premiums. Instead of utilizing reforms that would actually lower the price of health care, Obamacare tried to hide the massive costs of regulation by requiring young, healthy adults to subsidize the health care costs of older Americans at a rate well above what a well-functioning market would prescribe. Kicking the can down the road and shifting costs onto our children and grandchildren is not only unfair, it is wrong. The AHCA brings fairness back to the age pricing structure for premiums and lowers costs for all ages by instituting reforms that fundamentally lower costs of care, not mask them with funny money gimmicks. In fact, according to the Foundation for Government Accountability, seniors over 60 could see up to 45 percent lower premiums under the AHCA while young adults and other age groups would see savings of up to 50 percent.
The AHCA maintains the federal standard that no individual may be denied insurance coverage due to a preexisting condition. Period. Despite fear mongering from the Democrats and special interest groups hell-bent on maintaining a failing system, the AHCA maintains protections for our sickest and most vulnerable patients – and it does so in a more effective, cost efficient manner than Obamacare. Similar to the cost-shifting hijinks of the age rating,Obamacare did nothing to lower the cost of care for the very sick; it just attempted to cover up that cost by charging everyone more. In Obamacare, everyone was priced as if they were sick. In the AHCA, everyone is priced as if they are healthy and those with known high risks are subsidized behind the scenes by “invisible” high risk pools. This is a much smarter, cost efficient way to control costs for those with expensive medical needs and prevent premiums for healthier patients from spiraling out of control. According to a study by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Department, 50% of the nation’s health care costs come from just 5% of the population. The AHCA will provide these patients with a variety of affordable health insurance options and safety nets while keeping premiums low for the general population. These are the facts, without the emotional hysteria the Left is whipping up to cloud the policy debate.
Combined with my bipartisan legislation, the Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act, which passed the House by a vote of 416-7, the AHCA takes the necessary first step to rebuilding America’s healthcare market. While I still support full repeal and replacement of Obamacare, the revised AHCA finally opens the door to free-market solutions that empowers states and individuals to have more control over health care decisions. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues in Congress as well as President Trump to deliver the health care reform we were sent to Washington to deliver.
Again, I appreciate your thoughts and concerns. It is an honor to serve Arizona as part of its congressional delegation. Your suggestions are always welcome, and if ever I may be of assistance, please do not hesitate to contact me. To receive the latest legislative updates and news you can sign up for my e-newsletter at gosar.house.gov.