Repeal Obamacare? Michigan delegation split…and a bit vague

Affordable Care Act sign up screen through Healthcare.gov

Michigan’s 14 U.S. representatives and two senators fall along party lines in their stated positions regarding the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare). Republicans generally say they want repeal, Democrats want to keep and improve.

Bridge asked the state’s congressional delegation, and Michigan’s two U.S. Senators, to offer their position on the ACA’s fate (preserve, repeal, replace, delay) and how replacement would work. And we asked about the conversion of Medicaid from a federal/state-administered program to a block-grant system, also said to be under consideration by Congress. Not all replied. Those favoring repeal did not offer many specifics on whether they want an immediate replacement. Their statements are below.

Representatives

Jack Bergman, R-1

“The number one priority of the next Congress must be to repeal Obamacare. We need real and effective health care reform that empowers citizens to make their own healthcare decisions, not bureaucrats and politicians. Health insurance must be more personal and affordable. Specifically, we should allow for insurance to be purchased across state lines; and promote personalized health savings accounts, which will put you in charge of your health care.” Source.

Bill Huizenga, R-2

“I will fight to replace Obamacare with better solutions that puts patients, families, and doctors in charge of care instead of Washington, D.C. I believe that every American can have access to quality, affordable care by making health insurance portable from job to job so that we no longer have to rely on our employer for insurance. Health savings accounts should be more accessible and easier to use, small businesses and individuals should be allowed to band together to reduce costs, and junk lawsuits must be stopped. Finally, no one should ever have to worry about their coverage being taken away because of their age, income, or medical condition.” Source.

Justin Amash, R-3

Amash has repeatedly voted with the rest of the Republican coalition to repeal portions of the ACA, and has sponsored some measures in the past. Source.

John Moolenaar, R-4

“Health care in America should be about choice. At its core, it’s about American families having the ability to choose the health care plan that best meets their needs. …What (the American people) do want is: lower healthcare premiums; protection of Medicare benefits for seniors; (and) a plan that strengthens the doctor-patient relationship and keeps their private information private.” Source.

Dan Kildee, D-5

Kildee has consistently supported the ACA, and in 2014, criticized Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette for joining an anti-ACA lawsuit. His office distilled his current position this way: “(Kildee) is open to making improvements to ensure that healthcare remains a right for all Americans, but is opposed to repealing the Affordable Care Act in its entirety. He is also opposed to turning Medicaid into a block grant program.”

Fred Upton, R-6

Upton issued this statement: “My focus is on ensuring Michiganders can benefit from better choices at lower costs. I am committed to ensuring health care insurance markets provide more affordable options for families and small businesses, while protecting Americans with pre-existing conditions.”

Tim Walberg, R-7

Walberg said, in a statement: ““The president’s healthcare law has led to double-digit premium increases, rising deductibles, and dwindling choices for consumers. Promises that people could keep their plan and doctor were broken. Obamacare is collapsing and families who are hurting need relief. To fix this broken system, we need to repeal Obamacare and have a stable transition to patient-centered health care solutions that give families more choices and lower costs.”

Mike Bishop, R-8

In a statement from his office: “All of us can agree our nation’s healthcare system is far from perfect. While Obamacare has undoubtedly helped some, it has made things far worse for others. In my first term, I received hundreds of correspondences from residents in the 8th District, specifically detailing their own Obamacare horror stories. When a law has unintended consequences, it must be addressed. That’s why I remain focused on delivering more affordable, quality, patient-centered care for everyone.”

Sander Levin, D-9

In a statement, Levin said: “The Affordable Care Act must be preserved. The evidence of its benefits are clear in our state. …The protections in the law are also vital so that no one can be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition or women are not charged more for their care. I support strengthening the ACA by doing more to bring down the costs of health care overall and ensure affordability for all individual Americans. Any problems experienced so far in the implementation of the law can and must be addressed through amendments if Republicans were only willing to work together. I oppose turning Medicaid into a block grant. We’ve just seen a report from University of Michigan researchers that Michigan’s Medicaid expansion, Healthy Michigan, has not only expanded coverage to hundreds of thousands of individuals, but also helped to create 30,000 jobs and $2.3 billion in economic activity in the state.”

Paul Mitchell, R-10

Mitchell’s office released a statement reading, “Obamacare is unaffordable and unsustainable. Costs are rising for Michigan families and businesses. Patient access and patient choice is limited. Congressman Mitchell is focused on preserving protections for patients with pre-existing conditions, providing Americans with more choices, lower costs and greater flexibility.”

Dave Trott, R-11

“Dave Trott believes Washington needs to focus on patient-centered health care reforms that strengthen the doctor-patient relationship, lower the costs of health care for Michigan families, and eliminate the big-government mandates imposed by Obamacare. Dave supports free-market solutions such as allowing insurance to be sold across state lines, increasing insurance portability, putting patients in charge of health care spending, ending needless lawsuits, and protecting those with pre-existing conditions.” Source.

Debbie Dingell, D-12

“The Affordable Care Act is not perfect but it has provided a significant benefit to working families across Michigan. …We cannot afford to go backwards, and I will be fighting tooth and nail to protect the health care coverage that 695,000 people in Michigan and 20 million Americans rely upon. Medicare and Medicaid are also in jeopardy. Privatizing Medicare or turning it into a voucher system would mean that Medicare, which is currently a universal insurance program, would cease to exist. Seniors would have to buy private insurance and those who can least afford it would be most penalized. Turning Medicaid into a block grant program and slashing benefits would have a devastating impact on seniors, children and people with disabilities across the country. I will fight for these critical programs with every fiber of my being.”

John Conyers Jr., D-13

“Conyers is a strong supporter of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). …Conyers will defend the ACA and press for additional reforms to our health care system that prioritize patients over health insurance industry profits. He is the sponsor of H.R. 676, which would create a publicly-funded, privately-delivered ‘Medicare For All’ national health insurance system. Such a system would ensure that all Americans have access to quality, affordable health care.” Source.

Brenda Lawrence, D-14

“I’ll vigorously defend Medicare and Social Security by fighting for progressive policies that respect and protect our seniors. These men and women have earned the right to expect a return on their investment and I intend to deliver. What’s more, I’ll continue to back President Barack Obama and support the Affordable Care Act by loudly rejecting repeated conservative and Tea Party attempts to gut the law.” Source.

Senators

Debbie Stabenow, D

“Republicans are preparing to pull the thread that will unravel the entire health care system. Repealing health reform will also cut Medicare prescription drug coverage and Medicaid health benefits for minimum-wage workers and seniors in nursing homes. That includes more than 2 million Michigan residents losing their health insurance. I remain committed to improving health care and lowering costs for Michigan families and small businesses, not recklessly dismantling our health care system. I do not support (the block-grant) approach (to Medicaid). This plan would likely roll back coverage for low-income working families in Michigan, forcing most people to return to using emergency rooms for basic care while driving up costs to hospitals and shifting the costs of medical care back onto those who have insurance. Also, turning Medicaid into block grants would likely slash coverage for seniors living in nursing homes, individuals with disabilities and those living with a mental illness, children, and pregnant women.”

Source: Staff

Gary Peters, D

“The Affordable Care Act has brought the rate of uninsured Americans to record lows. Dismantling the health care law with no clear plan to replace it would strip away health care coverage from millions of Americans, undermine the financial security of Medicare and increase prescription drug prices, premiums and out-of-pocket costs for Michigan seniors and families. Congress should focus on finding bipartisan ways to improve the Affordable Care Act and ensure that all Americans can access quality and affordable health care.”

Source: Staff

About The Author

Nancy Derringer

Nancy Derringer is a Bridge staff writer and editor concentrating mainly on Detroit issues. She can be reached at nderringer@bridgemi.com

Mike Wilkinson

Mike Wilkinson is Bridge’s computer-assisted reporting specialist. He can be reached at mwilkinson@bridgemi.com.

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Comments

Tonja
Thu, 01/12/2017 - 10:45am

I do not know what the solution is, but Obamacare does not work for people like me. I have been denied for Obamacare the last three years because I don't make enough and then denied by Medicare because I make too much. Then expected to pay a penalty fee because I don't have insurance. Then, I got a raise this past year making $2,000 more a year. I now qualify for Obamacare which will cost me $3,000 a year! That puts me $1,000 a year below the income level than I would be before in which Obamacare said I do not make enough to qualify for! Even better, if I don't get the $3,000 of insurance, I get penalized and my new raise to bring me above poverty level for my family goes to pay for insurance fees that I didn't ask for. What an unbelievable mess when I work 5 jobs and 70 hours a week to feed my family!

Rick
Thu, 01/12/2017 - 4:25pm

Well, you will learn something with the Trump administration when you find yourself with no insurance and no alternatives. Just a series of platitudes with virtually no plan, etc. Good luck, you will need it.

Timothy
Sun, 01/15/2017 - 10:41am

To me, it sounds like you will be getting health insurance for $1,000 per year. Most people would kill to pay $85 per month for health insurance. That doesn't sound unaffordable!

Thu, 01/12/2017 - 10:47am

Well I see the republican hunting season has begun with the ACA but without any guide to whats to replace what they say will be very protective and less expensive. We believe that this song has a framilier refrain - kill it -stuff it with lies - have nothing to replace it - and forgeting what Trump said about protecting citizens at a lesser expense.Its too soon to say that you get for what you vote for so lets see how the republicans screw this up and how they construct the replacement to disfavor the needy but line the pockets of big business and insurance companies.

Bryan Watson
Thu, 01/12/2017 - 10:50am

In Michigan, as in many states, the adoption of PPACA in 2010 was followed by the dismantling of a number of local/state programs that overlapped the protections PPACA offered. Specifically:-- Michigan's "insurer of last resort" arrangement with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan was terminated and replaced by the expanded insurability protections of PPACA-- Michigan's SCHIP "MIChild" protection for children in low-income families was dismantled and replaced by the expansion of Medicaid coverage under PPACA-- Michigan's Medicaid program was expanded on the promise of federal dollars to cover the additional cost-- A law passed in 2013 converted Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Michigan from a tax-exempt "most-favored insurer" company to a mutual company, affecting their ability to set rates and to compete for business-- All health insurance companies (including BCBSM and private, for-profit insurers) have invested heavily in organizational restructuring to align with the PPACA health insurance market-- Private companies have likewise reorganized their employee benefits, including benefit costs and new-hire recruiting, to align with PPACARepealing PPACA does not restore any of these, and other, changes made to Michigan health insurance landscape. Michigan will take on the full cost of the expanded Medicaid program (or probably cut that program back). MIChild will need to be restored. There will be no "insurer of last resort" safety-net for Michigan residents. And the costs already incurred by Michigan's companies to adjust to PPACA will be lost as they incur new costs to align with whatever comes after PPACA (including a fall-back to pre-PPACA conditions).I would hope that the governor and the state legislators would require Michigan's Congressional delegation to explain how Michigan and Michigan's companies will cope with these burdens if they vote to repeal PPACA.

Naomi
Thu, 01/12/2017 - 11:06am

For me personally, and many of my friends and family, the ACA brought higher premiums, higher deductibles and less patient choice and accessibility for health care providers. I believe those of us who were negatively impacted were not heard before. A revision is a vital necessity however it gets done. I'm with the Right on this issue.

Jess
Thu, 01/12/2017 - 11:34am

Obamacare has failed in every way....first of all, there aren't 20 million participants...the figure is 11 million....The 20 million figure was just the estimated number that would subscribe by the end of '16. Secondly, that means that the balance of 320 million in this country are not enrolled on ACA after 5 years of being punished if they didn't subscribe. That comparison is never mentioned by the media in any manner. So there are vastly more people negatively afftected by ACA now than those that have subscribed thru receipt of gov't supported funding. Those left looking for insurance have been threatened with monetary penalty, geometrically increase in premiums and astronomical deductible requirements. So don't tell me about how 11 million are going to be hurt by the repeal of Obamacare. The whole thing was jammed down our throats by the Obama and congressional democrats. But my point is that the nation will not be worse off if it is repealed. Let the market place function. It will come up with solutions over night. There is just too much gov't involvement and insurance providers simply don't want to entangle themselves in the mess that has been created by all those mental midgets in congress.

Bryan Watson
Thu, 01/12/2017 - 12:39pm

Jess, the "320 million in this country ... not enrolled on ACA" are in no danger of any penalty "if they didn't subscribe". The vast majority have health insurance without ACA "enrollment" and therefore are not subject to any penalty. These are insured under employer-provided plans, private non-subsidized plans, Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, and other private or government-provided plans that existed before and after ACA. ACA "enrollment" is only to obtain premium subsidies. For many uninsured, they are exempt from any penalty because their income level is too low vis-a-vis available health insurance premiums.

Ken Jones
Thu, 01/12/2017 - 1:03pm

What is your source for your numbers??

Kevin Grand
Thu, 01/12/2017 - 7:59pm

Everyone should remember one indisputable fact <a href="http://www.forbes.com/sites/theapothecary/2014/11/10/aca-architect-the-s... rel="nofollow">from "Obamacare architect" Jonathan Gruber:</a> <i>...<b>"the stupidity of the American voter\'94</b> made it important for him and Democrats to hide Obamacare\'92s true costs from the public. \'93That was really, really critical for the thing to pass. But I\'92d rather have this law than not.\'94 </i>Each and every one of those democrats mentioned above have some serious explaining to do on why they promoted a lie to those of us here in Michigan.

duane
Fri, 01/13/2017 - 4:25pm

Nancy Pelosi, "We have to Pass the Bill so you can find out what is in it.'I can't imagine any better warning sign that something is really bad and can only get worse, then being told you have to approve it before you are allowed to see it.Only blindly loyal unthinking politicians [in this case all Democrats] would do what a person, who hadn't read it or if she had was so afraid that people would reject it so she wouldn't tell them what was in it, would tell them to do. And now those same politician and many others who know how bad it is are following that same person to prevent it being replaced with something all will see before it happens.

Doug Andridge
Thu, 01/12/2017 - 9:27pm

The answer is so simple. Socialize the healthcare system. Medicare for all. Private Insurance companies should have no business in my health care. Have you seen the % administration costs for private health care vs Medicare. Healthcare is a right of every citizen and not a profit center for wealthy CEO's. Read the responses of the R above. They make no sense. They are so far down the Repeal thought process they cannot even articulate why. There answers are "Just Because"

duane
Fri, 01/13/2017 - 9:55pm

Doug,Where does is it written that a person's health is the responsibility of others?When is a person responsible for their own health? When do the choices they make become their responsibility? Why is it always someone else responsibility to pay for care because of the lifestyle choices of the person who needs the care?Why should a person that is a two pack a day smoker consuming a couple of liters of full sugar soda and deteriorating because of poor circulation and diabetes have their health and medical care be the responsibility of others? As for CEO's, do you even know what their role is and how they can effect results? Or do you only see CEO's like Clinton sitting behind and desk getting special attention, or like Obama with all the reporting about his time on a golf course?Think about Steve Jobs and how he brought Apple back from near bankruptcy, about the former CEO of Ford and how he kept it from going bankrupt [no government bailout] and growing since the last recession, the CEOs of all the companies that designed and build the medical devices we have today that didn't exist a generation ago, or all the medicines that extend and improve our quality or life at a relative low cost. If you want results day in and day out, it will be influenced by a good CEO. The reality is the good ones set the tone/expectations, make the decisions that support those who make or deliver the goods an services. If you think private companies are so bad then explain to me why the VA is doing so badly?My view is it is better to use private companies because when they fail to deliver the contract is ended and other companies will step in. When government fails to deliver it seems they are rewarded and things just get worse. My employer partially paid medical insurance costs more and more, but it is paying for better and better care then has ever been available. And they coach me on how to manage my health to improve my quality of life and hopefully the length of live.You can denigrate the insurance companies and employer paid medical insurance, but with out them we wouldn't have the hospital system and the medical care we have today. A major difference between private companies and government organizations is the private ones are always competing and striving to do better in the future, the government is focus on the past and how they can make their budgets grow.

Shelley
Fri, 01/13/2017 - 10:55am

why can't they replace before they repeal people will die......come up with a better alternative fix ACA don't destroy it they're some good stuff with it

Fri, 01/13/2017 - 11:17am

The sad fact is that more and more individuals who get their insurance through work are paying more for it, higher deductibles ($10,000 a person is a little much), and less coverage. We are back to catastrophic health care, which is what it was when decades ago. We had made a lot of progress with PPO's and HMO's that has been lost. Telling people they don't make enough then giving them a voucher so that they are not penalized is not an answer. We have seniors who can't get help, but need it. Children with no insurance and this program has not fixed it. No one had really seen the program before it was implemented. Both sides need to get together and really look for a program that works.

ArtZ
Sun, 01/15/2017 - 9:06am

The Bridge like MSM, AARP and Democrat politicians should await the new administration to be sworn in with congress in session rather ponficate comments " from the sky is falling to the impact of bad changes may be implemented". Boil it cold water until the cards are dealt. Jobs &amp; our economy are my priorities for 16 to 26 year old citizens. The balloon of taxpayers vs social security retirees to fund SS Medicare Medicaid. Are alarming if not damn scary.

Bonnie Smith
Sat, 01/21/2017 - 9:38am

If we go back to the setup before the ACA, we'll have socialized medicine in which those paying for their own coverage also paid an additional $1,000 a year or so to cover those going to the emergency room and who had no insurance. Doctor and nurse family members tell me that those who went into the medical field to help people want a single-payer system that gets rid of the costs of all the paperwork required by insurance companies and allows them to practice medicine and help patients. However, some doctors---mostly those in private practice--- are in medicine to make a lot of money; they want to keep costs high to feather their own nests, and too bad for the people they treat, if they can't afford it. Family medical people tell me that the best care comes from doctors and nurses at university hospitals. I hope you find this information helpful.