Upton part of bipartisan plan to stabilize Obamacare
Washington — Republican Rep. Fred Upton is among a bipartisan group of centrist lawmakers who unveiled a set of solutions Monday aimed stabilizing Obamacare and health insurance markets following the collapse of the Senate’s health care bill last week.
Upton of St. Joseph is part of the 43-member Problem Solvers Caucus that says it reached a consensus over the weekend on proposals focusing on areas where they can work together to stabilize the health care industry.
Upton, who previously co-wrote bills to repeal the Affordable Care Act, said in a statement Friday that the path forward on health care is “seeking bipartisan, common-sense common ground.”
“At the top of our list is stabilizing insurance markets and ensuring lower premiums for patients. Our other goals are simple and what I’ve fought for all along: Protect those with preexisting conditions and ensure states that expanded Medicaid, like Michigan, are secure,” said Upton, who chaired the House Energy and Commerce Committee until January.
“This will safeguard the most vulnerable amongst us so they do not have the rug ripped out from under them. I look forward to being a constructive, bipartisan partner in these efforts.”
Rep. Josh Gottheimer, a New Jersey Democrat who co-chairs the caucus, said the group has shown it’s possible to forge cooperation on health care and “fight through the gridlock.”
“We all heard what John McCain said – it's time for bipartisan solutions,” Gottheimer said in a statement, referring to a floor speech last week by Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona.
“I thank my colleagues for their hard work and good faith efforts that got us to this point, and I look forward to working with them going forward to improve our health care system.”
Among the measures the caucus wants to address is the Obamacare cost-sharing subsidies, which President Donald Trump has threatened to end. The payments help reduce out-of-pocket costs for lower-income people.
The Problem Solvers Caucus wants to bring the cost-sharing subsidies under congressional oversight and ensure that they have mandatory funding, according to a summary of the group’s proposal.
The group also seeks to create a dedicated stability fund that states would use to reduce insurance premiums, especially for those individuals with preexisting medical conditions.
They would also revise the mandate under the Affordable Care Act for employers to provide health insurance by increasing the threshold from businesses with 50 employees to those with 500 or more employees.
The members say the current threshold places a burden on smaller employers and creates a disincentive for small businesses to expand beyond 50 full-time employees.
The caucus’ set of principles also calls for repealing the 2.3 percent sales tax on medical device supplies and providing technical changes and guidelines for states who want to “innovate” on the insurance exchanges or wish to form regional compacts to create more options for consumers.
The caucus co-chairs said members will meet with constituents and stakeholders while in their home districts in August. The members are working to find “agreeable offsets” within federal health care spending to fully pay for the changes.
In addition to Upton and Gottheimer, members of the caucus include Republican co-chair Rep. Tom Reed of New York; Reps. Martha McSally, R-Arizona; Scott Peters, D-California; Kurt Schrader, D-Oregon; Charles W. Dent, R-Pennsylvania; Tom Suozzi, D-New York; Dan Lipinski, D-Illinois; Jim Costa, D-California; Glenn “GT” Thompson, R-Pennsylvania; Leonard Lance, R-New Jersey; Brad Schneider, D-Illinois; Jim Himes, D-Connecticut; Carlos Curbelo, R-Florida; John J. Faso, R-New York; Ryan Costello, R-Pennsylvania; and Adam Kinzinger, R-Illinois.