Opinion Pieces

Hit the Ground Running

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Washington, February 15, 2017 | comments

While much of the spotlight has been on the new Trump Administration, the U.S. House is hitting the ground running to shake up Washington, D.C. from top to bottom and keep our promise to the voters to get our country back on track.

The first order of business is health care reform. The repeal of Obamacare was prominently debated in last November’s election and voters across the country elected Republican majorities who pledged to fix our healthcare system. And we have work to do: five states have only one insurance company offering plans through the Obamacare health exchanges; 70 percent of counties in America have one or two plans to choose from. Families deserve more choices than that.

I’ve argued for years that Republicans had an obligation to come up with alternatives to Obamacare, rather than just opposing it. Several House committees are finally working on bills to do just that: rebuild the collapsing health care market, strengthen Medicaid, and help small businesses struggling to offer coverage to their employees.

This issue is critically important to families throughout the 4th District - and not easy to solve.  More people than I can count have told me they can’t afford their health care costs. I’ve heard horror stories about deductibles doubling and tripling, so much that families feel like they don’t even have health coverage.  Dozens of local small businesses, the type owned by people who’ve forgone paychecks to pay their employees, tell me they can’t afford to offer health coverage any longer – much less create new jobs. 

Yet, there are thousands of people, including here in the 4th District, that have received health coverage through Obamacare or otherwise benefit from it. They’ve called me to say they’re worried about losing their coverage and their voices deserve to be heard too.

I’m advocating for health care reform that reduces costs, increases coverage options, and improves access to and quality of care. Solutions I support include: allowing citizens to purchase health insurance across state lines, helping small businesses pool together to negotiate better rates, expanding health savings accounts and pushing tort reform.

We’re taking this step by step. Congress must ensure there is a stable transition period to a better healthcare system so people don’t have the rug pulled out from under them. While Obamacare was jammed through Congress only to find out what was in it after it passed, know that I'll update you every step of the way.

The next major issue on the horizon is tax reform. The House Ways and Means Committee is hard at work on a plan that promotes job growth, emphasizes simplicity and fairness for families, and reforms the IRS into an agency that works for us, not against us.

We’re striving for tax reform that’s revenue neutral, which means you take away loopholes and special interest deductions in order to lower tax rates. This would help our economy grow again and make the tax code simpler - so most people could fill out their taxes on a postcard.  This kind of economic growth would help us solve many problems of the problems our Nation currently faces. Learn more about our efforts here: https://waysandmeans.house.gov/taxreform/.

While Congress looks to tackle these large-scale issues, I’m working on several common-sense bills to help solve problems that can make a difference in people’s lives. Each of these proposals has strong support from both sides of the aisle.

The Crime Victims Fund is based on a simple idea: money collected by the federal government from those who commit crimes should be used to help those victimized by crime. Yet for years, much of these funds were used to pay for other government programs. The Fairness for Crime Victims Act (H.R. 275) ends that practice.

In October 2015, the DHS Inspector General (IG) revealed that the Federal Protective Service (FPS) had more vehicles than actual officers and wasted more than $2.5 million of taxpayer money on its vehicle fleet due to numerous management failures. I’ve introduced the DHS SAVE Act (H.R. 366) to require DHS to improve management of its vehicle fleet. H.R. 366 passed the House in late January and has gone to the Senate for approval.

Finally, more than 300,000 children in American suffer from some form of epilepsy. Many of these children experience more than 100 violent seizures a day— any one of which could be fatal without proper care.  In the next few weeks, I’ll be re-introducing the “Charlotte’s Web Medical Access Act of 2015”, to ensure that children and individuals with epilepsy and other debilitating seizure disorders have access to life-changing Cannabidiol (CBD) oil. CBD is extracted from a plant containing no more than .3% THC, which means it has no hallucinogenic effects.

Although there is strong anecdotal evidence that CBD oil reduces the amount and duration of seizures for individuals suffering from these conditions, it’s currently banned for medical use at the federal level. This legislation seeks to change that. This bill had more than 60 co-sponsors last year and I’m going to keep fighting until it is law.

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