By – Parker Erickson
On Friday, Mach 10th, 2017, Vice President Mike Pence and Secretary of Health and Human Services (HHS), Tom Price, M.D., met with prominent leaders of the conservative movement in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building to discuss the GOP health care bill, the American Health Care Act, introduced early in the week. This “listening session,” was meant to give conservative groups the opportunity to voice their concerns, support, and ideas for the Administration’s efforts to fully repeal and replace Obamacare. Each group was able to voice their constituents’ concerns and ask questions about the “process” to fully repeal and replace.
Among those in attendance was Bob Carlstrom, who advised that AMAC supports this bill as a first step on the road to complete repeal.
“Obamacare has had seven, long years to expand Medicaid, kick people off their private insurance plans, and raise premiums and deductibles by astronomical amounts,” Carlstrom said. “Repealing and replacing Obamacare will be a multi-step process.”
Vice President Pence and Secretary Price reiterated to all groups in attendance—the American Health Care Act (AHCA) is a starting point for larger reforms to make health care more accessible, higher quality, and more affordable for all Americans. Extending an olive branch to groups in attendance who are less-than-enthusiastic about the current GOP plan, Vice President Pence and Secretary Price reiterated that their doors are always open to new ideas and perspectives that will improve the bill while keeping it within the restrictive requirements of the Reconciliation process.
During the meeting, the Vice President and HHS Secretary laid out a three-part roadmap for Americans to expect from the Administration. The first step is the passage and implementation of the American Health Care Act. Essentially, the AHCA eliminates the mandates and burdens of Obamacare, lets insurance companies compete again, and empowers patients get used to the fact that they will be making their health care choices again—not the government. The second and third steps, as Secretary Price explained, are to use his administrative and regulatory authorities to continue to shift burdens away from health care consumers while Congress enacts real changes like expanding Health Savings Account use, returning Medicaid spending power back to the states, and selling insurance across state lines. This three-fold plan is meant to use executive, departmental, and legislative power to restore patient-centered health care.
Following the nearly hour-long conversation, all in attendance were walked to the White House West Wing to meet with President Trump in the Oval Office. After a brief exchange between the President and the conservative groups, Mr. Carlstrom and Mr. Trump were able to talk briefly about how supportive AMAC is of Mr. Trump’s presidency and how AMAC is fighting for the values of conservative seniors all over the country. As Mr. Trump said to Mr. Carlstrom on the way out of the Oval, “Man, I’m glad I know you guys!”