Congressman Griffith's Weekly E-Newsletter 9.16.19
Fixing Health Care; WOTUS
Fixing Health Care
We are all familiar with the saying, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.” On health care, some Democrats find themselves arguing that Obamacare ain’t broke but still putting forward fixes.
When President Obama and Speaker Pelosi muscled Obamacare through Congress in 2010, it was supposed to solve the problems Americans had with health care. There certainly were aspects of the system that needed work. Too many people were uninsured, and those with preexisting conditions lacked legal protections.
Instead of focusing on these specific problems that called for reform, Obamacare blew up the old system and put up a house of cards in its place. Average citizens are paying a steep price, literally and figuratively, as a result. Costs continue to escalate, with ever-higher premiums, deductibles, and copays imposed.
Recent stories have offered more confirmation of this dysfunction, although many already see it just by looking at their hospital bills or insurance premiums. The Census Bureau reported that the rate of uninsured people in the United States increased in 2018 to 8.5 percent. Obamacare was supposed to expand coverage, but millions of Americans still cannot afford it.
Another story from Kaiser Health News highlighted the efforts of the University of Virginia Health System to collect unpaid medical bills. The system relied on extreme measures such as putting liens on homes and garnishing wages, sometimes for relatively small amounts. Again, if Obamacare had done what its proponents promised, medical bills would not be so expensive and put so much at risk for families.
Then-Vice President Joe Biden infamously and profanely praised Obamacare, yet as he seeks the presidency now, he proclaimed at the recent Democrat debate that his plan will “guarantee that everyone will be able to have affordable insurance.” So did President Obama. Biden even says of his plan, “Of the 160 million people who like their health care now, they can keep it.” We have heard that one before.
You may recall then-Senator Obama’s campaign stop in Bristol in 2008, where he promised “to cover all Americans and control rising costs,” lowering premiums for the average family by $2,500, according to the Bristol Herald Courier. Eleven years later, his administration’s failures in this regard are evident and continue to hurt people.
I am willing to work with anyone, Democrat or Republican, to help those Americans struggling to pay for health care. That’s why I worked on legislation in the last Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare, which the Senate failed to act upon. But count me skeptical of “solutions” from the people who want to double down on Obamacare’s failures or even blow it up and replace it with yet another boondoggle such as Medicare for All. They seem to believe the adage attributed to P.T. Barnum that “There’s a sucker born every minute,” but I believe the American people know better.
Fool us once, shame on you.
Fool us twice, shame on us.
On September 12, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Army Corps of Engineers announced that they had finalized the repeal of the Obama Administration’s Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule.
This is good news for farmers, ranchers, landowners, and anyone concerned about government overreach.
I have long criticized the Obama Administration’s approach to WOTUS, which was issued in 2015. Improving water quality is an objective we all support, but WOTUS defined the waters it claimed to govern under the Clean Water Act in an unlawfully broad manner.
Among the supposed waterways WOTUS sought to control were dry branches and areas that only have water in heavy or prolonged rain. Landowners would find that the government claimed jurisdiction over parts of their property, requiring them to seek a permit to use their own land.
Federal judges had blocked its implementation in some states, but in others, the 2015 rule had been implemented. As a result, differing sets of regulations applied to the Federal Government’s exercise of authority.
By issuing a final rule to repeal WOTUS, the EPA and the Army have rolled back authority the Obama Administration unlawfully sought to take for itself. This is welcome news.
This is “Step 1” in a process. Step 2 will be a rule to clarify what waters are under Federal jurisdiction and what authorities states have to manage their waters.
I applaud the Trump Administration for taking this better approach to water management. Landowners can now make use of their property without the tangle of red tape WOTUS had threatened.
If you have questions, concerns, or comments, feel free to contact my office. You can call my Abingdon office at 276-525-1405, my Christiansburg office at 540-381-5671, or my Washington office at 202-225-3861. To reach my office via email, please visit my website at www.morgangriffith.house.gov.