U.S. Rep. Phil Roe defended the latest House GOP-engineered repeal of the federal health care reform law Thursday as a necessary move to keep the public informed.
“We didn’t waste millions of dollars,” Roe, R-Tenn., said of the Republican energy, time and taxpayer funds used to repeal the law, also known as the Affordable Care Act (ACA), which was upheld by the U.S. Supreme Court late last month.
This week’s House repeal is expected to die in the Democrat-controlled Senate but could be resurrected in 2013 if Republicans get their way in the November general election.
“The millions and billions of dollars that are going to be wasted are with this health care plan,” Roe said in a conference call with reporters. “What I think we need to do ... is that the people need to understand what’s in this bill. ... We need an overhaul, but not a government-run system. ... There is one chance to change this — in November.”
Gray Democrat Alan Woodruff, Roe’s general election opponent this fall, said Roe’s feeling that Washington will take over health care is pure politics.
“There is nothing in the ACA that gives any federal agency control over anyone’s health care decisions,” Woodruff said in an e-mail. “Either Phil hasn’t really read the bill, or he has completely sold out to the Republican propaganda machine.”
Roe’s Southwest Virginia GOP counterpart, U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith, said ACA will have a damaging impact on seniors and Medicare.
“I believe the funding reductions of approximately $500 billion to the Medicare program over the next 10 years and the introduction of the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) will seriously jeopardize the financial health of hospitals and physicians all across Southwest Virginia,” Griffith said in a prepared statement. “Medicare is a primary source of income for a large number of the Ninth’s (District) hospitals and a primary source of health care for our seniors. I will not support legislation that puts either of them at risk.”
In a release this week, Roe called on AARP to condemn the IPAB, an independent board created in the health care reform law to rein in Medicare spending.
Roe also reiterated his concern that the Supreme Court held the law’s individual mandate would be constitutional as a tax levied on those not obtaining health insurance coverage.
As passed by Congress two years ago, ACA called for a “penalty” to be imposed by the Internal Revenue Service on individuals not securing health insurance.
“If this had been presented as a tax on the House floor, it would have never passed...” said Roe. “The president (Barack Obama) called it a penalty. It was debated as a penalty on the House floor, and a judge (Chief Justice John Roberts) decided it was a tax.”
Roe promised a House GOP health care reform plan is coming and will include high-risk pools for people with pre-existing conditions, malpractice reform and association health plans that could cross state lines.
“I think we should do it one (item) at a time. ... I think we do big very bad up here (in Washington),” Roe told reporters.
GOP presidential challenger Mitt Romney has pledged to repeal ACA despite overseeing a similar health care initiative while serving as Massachusetts governor.
Roe dismissed notions that Romney’s campaign hasn’t generated much excitement in Northeast Tennessee, a GOP stronghold.
“The president’s policies have just created the worst economic recovery in 70 years,” Roe said. “As people get to know Governor Romney, I think he’ll do extremely well in Northeast Tennessee. ... I think he’ll get a really strong vote in our area.”