Warren Davidson argued for more competition in the health care industry and touted a Republican proposal for tax reform in Enon on Thursday, but he spent much of his time talking about gridlock in Washington.
Davidson, a Republican congressman whose 8th district includes Clark County, said lawmakers need to find ways to pass legislation or the country will be governed by executive order. President Donald Trump recently signed an executive order allowing trade associations and other entities to offer health insurance that could be sold across state lines and would be exempt from some ACA regulations. But critics have said the order will also destabilize the ACA.
Former President Barack Obama also often resorted to executive order in the face of Republican opposition. But Davidson said he’s concerned Congress is no longer able to pass any significant legislation.
“For me, one of the big challenges is we can’t keep governing with a pen or a Twitter account or whatever,” Davidson said. “It’s got to be that there are real laws passed and the legislature does what it’s supposed to do, or we don’t keep our Republic.”
Davidson cited one example of why it’s been so difficult to pass legislation. Moderate and conservative Republicans in the House were divided on proposed legislation to repeal the ACA this spring. But when a member of the Tuesday Group Tom MacArthur, a caucus of moderate Republicans, drafted an amendment to bridge the gap, members of his own caucus were upset because it would have forced a potentially unpopular vote.
“People were very upset about him bridging this gap,” Davidson said. “So much so that he actually left this group called the Tuesday Group was no longer part of it and was very upset about the way he was treated.”
The Graham-Cassidy Bill, the most recent attempt to repeal the ACA, withered last month in the Senate in part due to opposition from numerous medical organizations, the insurance industry and the AARP. An evaluation by the Congressional Budget Office estimated the legislation would have slashed the federal deficit by about $133 billion over the next decade, but would also have resulted in millions of Americans losing their health insurance.
But Davidson said the bill would have created more competition and allowed states the flexibility to spend federal health care dollars however they saw fit. Under Graham-Cassidy, federal dollars would be doled out to each state in the form of block grants. That would have allowed states to experiment with ways to provide insurance, he said.
“We’ve got to do what we told the American people we were going to do,” Davidson said. “My opinion is more competition not less, that’s going to solve this.”
Suzanne Winters, owner of WENCO construction, said small businesses need more support. Too often, she told Davidson, larger corporations are driving the debate about what federal legislation looks like. Her company has about 60 employees, and she said she feels her employees are often stuck with few options. Health insurance is expensive for some of her employees, but because her company provides coverage, they also don’t qualify for subsidies under the ACA.
“I see my employees have things wrong and they can’t get coverage,” she said.