Florida Times-Union: U.S. Rep. Al Lawson: Change will come, someday, for Obamacare
Six months after he went to Washington touting changes to Obamacare, U.S. Rep. Al Lawson was back in Jacksonville Thursday. Still waiting for change.
“I don’t care whose name is on it,” the freshman Democrat said of the law guiding national health care.
Lawson said he’s still pushing revisions to the Affordable Care Act and that Democratic leadership has been more open lately to spelling out a need for change.
That idea might not have reached everyone.
“Our health care system is collapsing, but Democrats refuse to bring anything to the table. Where’s THEIR plan?” the Republican National Committee asked its 1.4 million Twitter followers this week, overlooking of course that Obamacare is the law Democrats passed and that Republicans pledged to repeal and replace.
Debate on a lot of other subjects was pushed down lawmakers’ agendas until a replacement bill could get through both Republican-led chambers of Congress. Disagreement in the Senate is the latest holdup.
Lawson talked with a reporter about health care before a community meeting on veterans’ issues at the Beaver Street Veterans Villas apartment building downtown.
Lawson said he and U.S. Rep. John Rutherford, a Jacksonville Republican, are working together on mental health legislation that is still being drafted, and that they’ve both worked well with U.S. Rep. Neal Dunn, a Panhandle Republican and fellow freshman who is also a doctor.
Lawson said he has urged Democrats to talk about improvements they’d support and pointed to a printed list circulated among Democrats. Those included steps to control prescription drug cost increases and expanded tax credits for middle-income families and for younger people who have been slower to sign up for insurance.
Rutherford is tracking Senate discussions about replacement legislation, a spokeswoman said.
Rutherford “believes it is critical that we fulfill our promise to repeal and replace Obamacare and will continue working to increase access to quality affordable health care for every Northeast Florida family,” said spokeswoman Taryn Fenske.
Lawson sent President Donald Trump a letter last month making the case for changes that wouldn’t require repealing Obamacare.
“The Affordable Care Act is not a perfect law and there certainly is a lot of room for improvement,” Lawson wrote. “But let’s work together to figure out ways to bring down health care costs.”
Lawson recommended repealing a luxury tax that’s collected on generous, so-called “Cadillac” insurance plans used by some lucky workers. As insurance costs rise, the tax could end up affecting ordinary plans if it’s not repealed, he said.
Lawson also asked Trump to increase the tax credit some small businesses can get for offering insurance to employees and consider ending a tax on sales of medical devices like heart valves and artificial hips. The tax was created to raise revenue for Obamacare, but Congress suspended it in 2015 and business-watchers had suggested it could be eliminated as part of tax reforms Trump had planned.
Lawson said he has reached out to Florida’s two senators and thinks other lawmakers will want a more bipartisan agreement on health care change.
“I don’t think it’s been in vain,” he said.