Health Care Takes Federal Spotlight

Since the passage of the Affordable Care Act, there have been calls from the Republican Party to repeal the federal health care law. There were many votes in the House to try to accomplish that goal, but efforts stalled after that. The results of the November election, however, have put the issue on the fast track.

This week, the American Health Care Act was introduced in the House of Representatives; it’s a House Republican leadership-led plan that would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and is said to contain patient-centered reforms that drive down costs and expand access to care. More information can be found online.

The legislation has received mixed reactions from both sides of the aisle in the Indiana delegation. And overall, more mixed reaction – especially more from Republicans – has been prevalent in the Senate.

Representatives Larry Bucshon (IN-08) and Susan Brooks (IN-05) participated in the 27-hour hearing by the Energy and Commerce Committee on the new legislation. This markup phase lasted from Wednesday morning to Thursday afternoon before it was finally approved for advancement 31-23. During and since that marathon, Bucshon and Brooks have taken to social media to offer their support for the American Health Care Act. Here
are two updates they provided:

Brooks subsequently also stated: “The goals of the American Health Care Act are to provide states with more flexibility, lower health care costs for families and offer people more options when it comes to their health care decisions. Our plan protects coverage for people with pre-existing conditions, allows kids to stay on their parents’ insurance plans until the age of 26, continues to protect seniors from the high costs of prescription drugs caused by the Medicare Part D donut hole and bans lifetime caps to ensure that people will never have a limit imposed on their care.”

Meanwhile, Rep. Jim Banks (IN-03) offered: “While the replacement plan contains positive reforms like a permanent repeal of the medical device tax and repeal of the individual mandate, I have concerns about several aspects of the bill. These include the overall cost of the plan, the length of time it takes to repeal many Obamacare taxes, the possible creation of a new entitlement program and whether essential pro-life protections will be maintained. I will carefully study this legislation and evaluate how these concerns are addressed as this bill moves through the legislative process.”

Banks further stated that he supported two amendments to the replacement bill supported by the Republican Study Committee (of which he is a member) that he thinks would improve the underlying bill: one would freeze new enrollment in Medicaid expansion at the end of this year; the other would institute work requirements for able-bodied, childless adults on Medicaid.

On the Senate side, Indiana Republican Todd Young took to Twitter to give his quick thoughts on the new proposal: “Americans will have weeks to see what’s in the GOP health care plan before the Senate votes on it. (We) will not repeat mistakes of 2009. Feedback from both D’s & R’s alike will be welcome. We need input from all sides to fix the Obamacare mess.”

In an interview with WANE-TV in Fort Wayne, his counterpart – Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelley – implored Congress to not rush to pass a new law, but instead to work on a bipartisan effort to install some commonsense measures in the existing health care law that would be more beneficial to Hoosiers. Watch the full video interview.

The Week in Federal Affairs

  • Congresswoman Susan Brooks (IN-05) launched a new video series this year called, “What I’m Hearing.” In each episode, she discusses one issue based on concerns from her constituents. The most recent episode is focused on health care coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. Brooks states that this coverage is a priority for her and for her colleagues in Congress.
  • Last week, the House Energy and Commerce Committee chairman introduced
    legislation, H.R. 1121, Pre-Existing Conditions Protection Act, and Rep. Brooks is an original co-sponsor. This bill confirms guaranteed health care access, ensures a person cannot have benefits excluded from a plan due to pre-existing conditions and makes sure that people will not pay more for coverage based off of how healthy or sick they may be. This bill will be debated and discussed in the Health Subcommittee, of which she is a member, in coming weeks.
  • Senators Joe Donnelly and Todd Young, along with local and federal officials, met with Governor Eric Holcomb in East Chicago to discuss the lead crisis after the Governor declared it a disaster emergency earlier this month.
  • Yesterday was confirmation hearing day for Indiana’s former Sen. Dan Coats, who is President Trump’s pick to be director of national intelligence. Coats will appear before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence.
  • Representatives Brooks and Larry Bucshon (IN-08) were recently in Japan to discuss economic opportunities and partnerships.
  • Congressman Andre Carson is hosting a Youth Opportunities Fair on March 6 for potential jobs, internships and volunteer opportunities at the Central Library in Indianapolis.

Reps. Bucshon, Carson to Host Transportation Jobs Fair in Indy

A nice opportunity here from two Indiana Congressmen. Rep. Larry Bucshon's office writes: As many of you know, in the 112th Congress we passed several bills that make it easier for Veterans to obtain a CDL and additional transportation related jobs. We’re hoping to have a large turnout from potential employers and those who are looking for a job in the transportation industry. Here are the details:

When: February 21, 2013, 2 – 6 p.m. EST
Where: Ivy Tech Corporate College Illinois Fall Creek Center – 2532 N. Capitol Ave, Indianapolis, IN 46208
Hosted by: U.S. Congressman André Carson (IN-07) & U.S. Congressman Larry Bucshon (IN-08)
Please Note: There is no charge for participating in this event.
Employer Setup is noon – 2 p.m. the day of the event.

*Employers can register for the jobs fair by filling out the Job Fair Registration Form.

**For more information, please contact Erin Pugh at (812) 232-0523 or at erin.pugh@mail.house.gov.
 

I-69: Open for Business!

Today was a monumental day in Indiana transportation, with the opening of a portion of the new I-69 highway. Gov. Mitch Daniels and other leaders convened to open the road this morning near Evansville, and Daniels then rode his motorcycle to Washington (Indiana). The Indy Star reports:

Daniels called the new stretch of highway "perfect,” proclaiming it will be a source of jobs and joy for communities along route.

Daniels, joined by federal, state and local officials, this morning opened the first of three new sections of I-69 in Far-Southwestern Indiana with a ribbon-cutting ceremony near Evansville. Rep. Larry Bucshon, R-Ind. , Lt. Gov.-elect Sue Ellspermann, Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke and Norm Bafunno, president of Toyota Indiana were on hand.

Bouchon got to drive highway. He said he was thrilled with it connection the 3rd largest city with central Indiana.

Pike County commissioner Brian Davis also road the route with Daniels’ entourage. He called it both good and strange. Davis said it is great to have the county’s first interstate, but added "it was funny how quick we went through our county."

Daniels headed north to Washington and met with David Graham, a retired Daviess County farmer and longtime advocate for the new I-69 corridor, and Mark Newland, representing his late father, Jim, of the Mid-Continent Highway Coalition, another long-time advocate for the new highway.

The governor’s final stopwill be at a new interchange with U.S. 231 near Crane Division, Naval Surface Warfare Center about 20 miles west of Bloomington. According to INDOT, that stop also will “include special recognition of Indiana basketball legend Bobby Plump and Olympic gold medalist David Boudia.”

The new interstate is slated to open to the public at 6 p.m.

Thanks to Chamber VP Cam Carter for the picture, taken this morning near Evansville.