Congress Needs A Smart, Clear Thinker Like Wenstrup

Yesterday afternoon at the Anderson Center, Dr. Brad Wenstrup, Republican candidate for representative to Congress in our Ohio’s second district, hosted a Health Care Forum featuring Dr. Michael Burgess, congressman from the 26th district in Texas.  Dr. Burgess spent nearly three decades practicing medicine before he began serving in Congress in 2002.  He is one of 16 physicians currently serving in Congress and the chairman of the Congressional Health Care Caucus, which he founded in 2009.

“A fiscal conservative, Dr. Burgess believes Americans deserve a federal government that is more efficient, effective, less costly, and always transparent.  He follows a strict adherence to the Constitution, and opposes unnecessary expansion of the federal government’s control over American’s personal freedoms.  Instead, Dr. Burgess believes in giving people more control over their money.”*

Dr. Burgess shared his thoughts about the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA, or “Obamacare” as we have fondly named it) along with common sense ideas for reform.

What happens with the election?

Obviously, the outcome of the presidential election will have an enormous impact on the fate of healthcare in this country.  If Obama is not reelected, Romney has spoken about using the waiver authority through executive order to postpone and prevent some of the implementation of Obamacare.  However, some of the implementation has already occurred, so this has to be handled very carefully.  This is where Congress will come in, and Dr. Burgess emphasized the importance of having someone involved in that process like Dr. Wenstrup who understands how things really work in the world of medical care delivery.

If Obama wins, it could be interpreted as a ratification of Obamacare by the people; and it would seem like all challenges to it would have been exhausted, so Obamacare would be going forward as it is.  But, there is a problem – it doesn’t work.  “And that is not a political statement,” says Dr. Burgess.  Ill-conceived, written by lobbyists, and forced through the Senate and House, Dr. Burgess contends that it just does not work.

Taxes must start in the House, right?

Though we all agonized through the process of the passage of that abominable legislation, there are some aspects of it that are not commonly known.  Dr. Burgess explained the slight-of-hand that resulted in a tax bill that was written in the Senate but technically “originated” in the House, as required by the Constitution:

In the fall of 2009, the House passed a healthcare bill (HR 3200) which died in the Senate.  The bill that actually became law was HR 3590.   In July of 2009, the house had passed this non-controversial bill (HR 3590), which was a housing bill for veterans.  It went to the Senate for further activity.  The “further activity” turned out to be an amendment.  The amendment struck out everything preceding it, and inserted all the healthcare language.  So, what started as a housing bill, ended up as a healthcare bill with all of the embedded taxes.

When the bill was passed in the Senate, before a snowstorm on Christmas Eve in 2009, they all thought that it would go through the conference process, and that the healthcare bill that had been previously passed in the House as well as what had just passed in the Senate would be looked at together.  They thought they would make something workable out of all of it; but they never got that chance.

With Senator Ted Kennedy’s death and replacement by Republican Scott Brown, Harry Reid lost the 60th vote, which was needed for ending debate at any point in time and forcing a vote on a piece of legislation.  So, Senator Reid said that the healthcare law would have to be passed the way it left the Senate.  The House complied and delivered the necessary votes.  The law was in rough form, needing to go through the conferencing process, but it never went to conference.  Consequently, there are errors and conflicts in this law.

Regardless of the outcome of the election, there is much that has to be done to make healthcare work.  Dr. Burgess expressed excitement about Brad Wenstrup coming to Congress:

“We need a smart, clear thinker like he is – someone who relies on common sense more than legislative language.  He’s going to be an important part of whatever the landscape is going into next year. Regardless of who wins the Presidential election, he will be an important part of that landscape.”

See Dr. Burgess’s Prescriptions For Health Care Reform

See HR 3590 The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act

*from “Congressman Michael C. Burgess, M.D. – Official Biography”

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