Washington, D.C. – On Monday, March 20, 2017, Alaska Congressman Don Young held a call with Alaska media to discuss Congressional efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
Congressman Young shares views on healthcare proceedings currently before the U.S. House of Representatives (click here to listen)
Remarks by Congressman Don Young on the American Health Care Act:
My staff and I have spent countless hours reviewing, including right now, the American Health Care Act’s size, scope and direct impact to Alaska to see if it supports the goals of reforming our failing healthcare system in a manner demanded by the Alaskan people. Importantly, this has included in-depth discussions and conversations with numerous stakeholders, including the State of Alaska, Alaskan families, patients and healthcare professionals.
My goal remains the same, repeal Obamacare. The ultimate goal remains the same – to find a path forward to transition away from Obamacare and provide individuals with patient-centered reforms, added choice and flexibility, and relief from a one-size-fits-all federal mandate.
Healthcare is broken as it is today. We’ve seen the numbers – skyrocketing premiums, soaring deductibles, and the loss of all but one insurer. Ultimately, I support efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, but I also recognize that it’s very difficult to put the toothpaste back in the tube – as I’ve said for years.
By the way, this is a three-tiered process. These efforts can’t be viewed in a vacuum. It’s a multi-tiered process, one that begins under the budget reconciliation process – the only way we can bypass a Senate filibuster. Next, administrative relief from HHS Secretary. There’s some 1400 instances in the ACA that gives the HHS Secretary wide scope of authority to make decisions that impact healthcare. Lastly, this process is aided with the passage of additional legislation, including the ability to purchase insurance across state lines, enact certain types of tort reform – for example, frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits that drive up costs, associated health plans – which for example could allow fishermen to ban together to get cheaper insurance.
I support transitioning away from Obamacare. This bill contains a number of policy provisions I wanted to see preserved, including protections for preexisting conditions and allowing dependents under 26 to remain on their parents plans, no limits on lifetime caps, and more. The bill is a major step toward lifting an invasive government mandate upon individuals – one that has forced Americans to buy a product that is unsustainable or unaffordable for their families. Importantly, it eliminates burdensome taxes, which have cost families and businesses, and provides government cost savings. It also strengthens health savings accounts by nearly doubling the amount you can contribute – giving you more control over your health care dollars.
This process remains extremely fluid and changes will be made. Speaker Ryan has said as much and I am committed to working with him to improve this legislation under the confines of the budget process and beyond. The House Rules Committee is set to release some changes, including some relief for older patients.
I working to address concerns and for equitable treatment. As I said before, I remain committed to improving this legislation in areas that it falls short. One area, which many Alaskans have commented on, is the very serious disparities we see for our state. For seven years, I’ve said healthcare cannot be a one-size-fits-all approach. Yet, this is what we’re seeing out of Washington, D.C. today. If this is the legislation and process we’re going to pursue, it must not disproportionately impact Alaska. No state in the nation is impacted more than Alaska, which is why I’m working to make this legislation better with the Leadership.
I’m also working hard with both Senator Murkowski and Senator Sullivan to ensure as a delegation we can address a number of Alaska specific concerns – the high cost of care, skyrocketing premiums, lack of competition, our remoteness, and the many challenges we face due to our lack of infrastructure and roads. We must recognize that Alaska faces challenges seen nowhere else in the nation. We remain the highest cost state for healthcare and therefore – at times – we require a different approach than the lower 48.
Right now, I’m not convinced this is the best approach. I remain committed to repealing Obamacare, but right now we have to see if this bill is the right approach to solving the Obamacare problems. As written, I’m not convinced it does. At some point we have to ask ourselves if full repeal is our only option, which forces everyone back to the table while Obamacare unwinds over the next three years.