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Guest opinion

Barber: Congress needs to get to work, stop political games

The Affordable Care Act needs serious improvements, and Congress should come together to find bipartisan fixes to improve this law.

I am working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to fix the parts ofthe Affordable Care Act that don't work for small businesses and my constituents. It's time to make health care work for Southern Arizonans.

That means talking with people about their concerns and going in and fixing the problems.

Rather than focus on real solutions to the problems embedded in this law, leadership in Washington has wasted many days – and millions of your dollars – trying to repeal the law rather than make the necessary changes.

I was not in Congress in March 2010 when the act was voted on. Since I took office nearly a year ago, I have remained committed to supporting common-sense action to fix parts of the Affordable Care Act that don't work for SouthernArizonans.

So far I have signed onto legislation to:

  • Eliminate the tax on medical devices that threatens jobs and innovation;
  • Repeal the annual tax on health insurance to protect families and small businesses from premium hikes;
  • Repeal the Independent Payment Advisory Board that could reduce Medicare spendingwithout congressional oversight and hurt access to care for seniors.

Repeal of the health insurance tax is a main concern of the National Federation of Independent Businesses, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the American Farm Bureau.

It is also of grave concern to the small businesses in my district.

Following several meetings with local small businesses, I signed onto the legislation immediately. Similarly, I heard from dentists and local medical device companies about the negative impact of the medical device tax.

In addition to these pieces of legislation, I have been working closely with residents of Green Valley to protect the tax deduction for medical expenses,which will help keep the cost of health care down for seniors in Southern Arizona and across the country.

Almost 11 percent of seniors take advantage of the deduction – twice as many as the population at large – and they receive an average annual deduction of $1,500. 

I am doing what I feel is the most responsible path for any member of Congress: I am speaking to my constituents and ensuring that their priorities are translated into legislation.

That is how I wish my colleagues in the House would address problems with the Affordable Care Act. Let's make it work for all of our constituents.

Instead, the House leadership insists on playing political games, even as our country faces serious issues including getting people back to work; securing our border and dealing with sequestration — the indiscriminate, across-the-board budget cuts.

While leadership in Washington wasted valuable time with another empty attempt at repealing a law that closes the donut hole for seniors and ensures health care for children and people with preexisting conditions, in the previous month I have been focused on:

We cannot keep doing the same thing over and over again – for 37 times – and call that working for the American people.

 We must focus on genuine bipartisan solutions to the problems that affect every American every day. I implore my colleagues to join me.

Ron Barber is the U.S. representative from Arizona’s 2nd Congressional District.

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5
1768 comments
May 24, 2013, 9:05 am
-0 +0

To your first question I say touche.

To your second question, I say it is invalid. If was asked on the faulty premise that the absence of a better idea automatically converts a bad idea into a good idea.

I personally don’t trust the same government who is trying (and not doing a good job) to convince me that closing the Cherrybell station somehow saves money to run healthcare, or even be in the business.

Though I’m a capitalist, I will concede that there are some scenarios where it is just not working as it should under the current system. Gas prices is one scenario. Healthcare would be another. I wouldn’t mind less regulations in some respects to health care, more regulations in others (especially in price controls), but as far as the government actually entering the business…that’s a disaster.

As I said, throw out this crap and try again the right way. 2700-page bills, and have to pass it to see what’s in it, are NOT the right way to do things.

4
542 comments
May 23, 2013, 1:10 pm
-0 +0

@Bret Linden

What are those sick people doing now, Bret? They’re not going untreated; they’re costing those who can afford to pay for health care even more by using emergency services, driving up expenses.

What’s your solution?

3
1768 comments
May 23, 2013, 1:01 pm
-0 +0

@Dylan Smith

Well, that’s wonderful news. Now, are we going to train these millions of new patients to be sick, or are they already sick?

And, does this new personnel take overnight crash-courses, or are they going to endure the years upon years of training that existing doctors do? And, if they do, then what do all these already-sick people do in the interim? What does the heavily-overburdened system do in the interim?

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Will Seberger/TucsonSentinel.com

Barber in November.

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