East End Congressman Lee Zeldin spelled out his position on the pending repeal of former President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act, and on his support for the replacement bill, the American Health Care Act, in a letter emailed to constituents on his mailing list late Tuesday afternoon.
We’ve included the full text of the letter below:
The American Health Care Act, which would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, is currently working through the House.
This legislation is supported and being strongly advocated for by the President and his new administration.
Since the bill’s introduction, my staff and I have been reviewing this legislation in depth. The American Health Care Act, which is now going through the House Rules Committee, may still be tweaked throughout the process. Once that happens, the legislation would then go to the House floor for a vote, which could happen as early as this week.
It is so important that whatever happens, there must be a smooth transition to a better reality that will improve affordability, access, quality of care and options, while continuing to cover Americans with pre-existing conditions and allowing children to stay on their parent’s policy under age 26.
Obamacare has resulted in higher premiums, higher deductibles, lost doctors, and cancelled policies, among many other challenges. Deductibles are so high, many people now feel like they don’t even have insurance anymore. One-third of the counties in our country only have one option left under the exchange. That’s not choice. That’s a monopoly.
There were so many broken promises. We were told that if you like your plan, you can keep it and that if you like your doctor that you could keep your doctor. We were assured that Obamacare would reduce the deficit, and that insurance premiums would go down $2,500 per family. All of this was untrue.
The American Health Care Act would provide relief from the significant amount of taxes and mandates enacted under the ACA, eliminating all ACA taxes. Additionally, the bill repeals the individual and employer mandates, taxes on prescription and over the counter medications, health insurance premiums and medical devices.
This budget reconciliation legislation is the first step of a three step process. Step two is administrative action to ensure a smooth transition. Step three will be additional legislative action, which could also come as early as this week.
One of my biggest concerns right now is the amount of people making untruthful and misleading claims about the bill in the attempt to undermine efforts to repeal and replace the ACA. Here are some examples of those claims:
1. The bill would drop low income Americans from the Medicaid rolls – The current expansion plan will not kick any beneficiary off Medicaid. The current plan is to keep the enhanced match (90% from the feds for NYS) until 2020. At that point, states will get their normal Federal Medical Assistance Percentage, otherwise known as FMAP, (50% for NYS) for the expansion population. A state will continue to receive the enhanced match (90%) after 2020 for any expansion beneficiary until they are no longer on Medicaid.
2. Premiums are going to rise as a result of the AHCA being passed – While the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report states that premiums may slightly increase in 2018 and 2019, the report also states that by 2026 premiums will actually be 10% less than premiums are currently.
3. Republicans are not focused on making improvements to the current law. They only want to irresponsibly gut it all – For example, the American Health Care Act continues to cover individuals with pre-existing conditions, allows children to stay on their parents plan until age 26, maintains a ban on lifetime or annual limits, keeps the Medicare Part D donut hole closed, and prevents insurance companies from charging women more than men.
4. New York’s seniors will be unfairly targeted – Actually, the American Health Care Act in its present form, when coupled with current New York state law, results in a very beneficial targeting for seniors. New York State already has laws on the books which maintain balanced coverage for the ages of all New York residents.
5. 24 Million Americans would lose their health insurance – This CBO conclusion is primarily because individuals will be free to choose whether or not to obtain health insurance without penalty; as it should be. The scope of the CBO score is also limited to just this legislation, which only represents one third of the total approach to reform healthcare. As we discussed earlier, this is a three-pronged process that includes action from the Administration as well as several other pieces of legislation which will all impact the volume of individuals covered.
There are other necessary reforms to healthcare that can’t be accomplished through the budget reconciliation process. This includes allowing policies to be sold across state lines, lowering drug costs for patients, allowing for the pooling of policies, providing additional flexibility in Medicaid for states to manage their own programs as effectively as possible, and medical legal reforms.
Almost everyone agrees that Obamacare is flawed and has to be improved. The current system is about to collapse. Doing nothing is not an option. It is time for much needed reform to give Americans better, patient-centered care and more choices to best suit their individual needs.
If you have any questions on this bill, or would like to discuss it in depth, please contact my office at 631.289.1097.
With Best Regards,
Member of Congress