The following is Congressman Robert Pittenger’s (NC-09) weekly column. Congressman Pittenger will appear tonight in an exclusive interview on LIVE AT 5.
Did you know four liberal states currently receive 37 percent of all Obamacare funds?
That inequity is one reason certain special interest groups and politicians are so anxious to maintain the status quo.
Wouldn’t it be better if your federal tax dollars were shared more equitably, so that communities could develop healthcare solutions that meet their needs? And at the same time, do away with Washington’s top-down, one-size-fits-all approach to healthcare?
Those are the conservative, common sense principles behind the “Graham-Cassidy” healthcare legislation, which the Senate is on the verge of passing to repeal and replace Obamacare. This is a conservative, market-based solution to repairing America’s broken healthcare system, and it’s a good deal for hardworking Americans.
Under the Graham-Cassidy proposal, North Carolina should gain $7 billion in additional federal healthcare funding over the next 10 years. Up to $1.4 billion of that additional funding could be dedicated specifically to Medicaid.
How? The federal dollars currently spent on Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, tax credits, and cost-sharing programs would be shifted to equitable block grants to each state. This would be based not on politics, but on each state’s percentage of citizens within a certain range of the federal poverty line. The money would go where it was most needed.
Each state would be empowered to use that money to best address local healthcare needs, including protections for those with pre-existing conditions and local programs to help reduce costs.
The Graham-Cassidy proposal also repeals Obamacare’s individual and employer mandates, repeals Obamacare’s tax on medical devices, and opens the door to competition. As you’ve heard, “15 minutes could save you 15 percent or more on car insurance.” The same principle can work for health insurance.
As a leader of the Congressional Pro-Life Caucus, I am grateful the Graham-Cassidy proposal defunds Planned Parenthood for the next year and adds additional pro-life protections to the tax credit provisions. During this year’s debate over healthcare reform, I’ve met with Vice President Mike Pence and Speaker Paul Ryan to ensure pro-life protections remain in the final legislation.
As a fiscal conservative, I am excited this legislation creates more accountability in Medicaid. This is an issue I’ve worked on for over a decade, going back to my days in the North Carolina Senate. Currently, Medicaid is essentially a blank check, and therefore states have no incentive to be careful with your federal tax dollars.
Under Graham-Cassidy, states would receive Medicaid funding via the block grants. We’d make sure the grants provide enough funding to meet real needs, but without a blank check, states would have the necessary incentive to root out waste, fraud, and abuse. States would also be allowed to impose work requirements for non-disabled, non-elderly, non-pregnant Medicaid enrollees.
Currently in North Carolina, 95 out of 100 counties have only one Obamacare option. Rates have spiked 176 percent since 2013, and Blue Cross of North Carolina has requested a 22.9 percent increase for 2018. Maintaining the status quo is not acceptable.
Obamacare attempts to force individuals into a one-size-fits-all model. Graham-Cassidy recognizes we are the United States, not the Homogeneous States, and equitably distributes over $1 trillion to the states with flexibility to address local healthcare needs. This model provides substantial funding to cover pre-existing conditions, helps make healthcare affordable, allows states to impose common sense work requirements for able-bodied Medicaid beneficiaries, defends the right to life, and frees hardworking Americans from onerous Washington mandates.
Congressman Robert Pittenger (NC-09) is Chairman of the Congressional Task Force on Terrorism and Unconventional Warfare, Vice Chairman of the Subcommittee on Terrorism and Illicit Finance, and serves on the House Financial Services Committee, with a special focus on supporting small businesses, community banks, and credit unions.