Op-Ed: Western Pennsylvanians Want A Better Way on Health Care

rothfus

In the real world, when you buy a product with a guarantee, and you are not happy with what you bought, you can return or exchange it.

We all heard the promises President Obama made when selling his health care law. But, if you ask Western Pennsylvanians they will tell you a tale of broken promises and disappointments.

A mom from Gibsonia told me that, “The cost increases are out of control. We are a middle-class family of four, and this health care reform is taking a serious chunk of our income.” Her family’s premiums will increase 46% in 2014.

Robert has been working at a big box store to stay insured and recently had his hours reduced to twenty-nine per week and is losing his health insurance.

Stephanie, a nurse from the North Hills, told me that she and her family are losing their health care plan, a plan they liked, and will be forced into the exchanges.

Another North Hills mom shared her frustration at the President’s failure to honor his guarantee that she would be able to keep her doctor. “No, I will not as mine will not be there for me any longer.”

Chris, a constituent from Beaver County who will be laid off in November, asked me to “please repeal this mess of a law and do something sensible.”

Chris’ admonition to Congress is important and valuable advice. That is exactly what my colleagues and I want to achieve to improve care and reduce costs for all Americans.

In recent days, you may have heard about funding the federal government and defunding Obamacare.

Here is the scoop: I am against a shutdown. The President’s health care law, however, is not ready for primetime, so let’s delay it and work on a better way. President Obama has admitted as much by issuing nine delays and signing seven pieces of legislation repealing various aspects of the law.

Last week, the House passed a bill that keeps the federal government open, provides Congress with additional time to complete its work on the twelve annual, appropriations bills, and delays the President’s health care law. Doing so would provide breathing room to produce bipartisan reform that increases access to care and lowers costs.

One such health care reform alternative is The American Health Care Reform Act. This proposal would lower health care costs by allowing Americans to purchase coverage across State lines and enabling small businesses to pool together to increase their buying power. It would allow families and individuals to deduct health care costs and expand the amount of pre-tax dollars they can deposit into portable health savings accounts. This is a significant difference – under the President’s law, you get a tax penalty if you don’t buy insurance; under the new proposal, you get a tax break if you buy insurance.

Importantly, this legislation also provides significant funding for State-based high risk pools, a place where individuals with preexisting conditions can obtain health insurance coverage when doing so would have otherwise been unaffordable.

This is just one solution that could address Chris’ instruction to Congress, and if we can delay or repeal the health care law I am committed to working with all my colleagues for solutions that actually work.

It is time for a new beginning. It is time for a new beginning that brings Republicans and Democrats together in support of bipartisan solutions. As President John F. Kennedy said, “Let us not seek the Republican answer or the Democratic answer, but the right answer.”

23 comments

  • Keith., give it up. Americans are sick of the GOP whining about this. You know, as does Cruz, that Americans are going to like, very much, the new plans once their have them and you will have ZERO chance of changing them once this is in place.

  • Great article Keith, Jason Altmire was more in touch with his district and if the district wasn’t redrawn by republicans he would have been re-elected (4th Dist)for it included Johnstown (12th dist) and favored mark critz. Facts are that Pennsylvania is a state with some of the lowest premiums in the whole USA under the ACA. Your a corporate attorney so of course with health insurance companies they are the little guy with the suit and tie and want to keep their profits high.

    • Jason Altmire was a giant phony. Also please try to remember that Altmire voted against the ACA. Altmire won by just a hair in 2010. He would have lost in 2012 no matter what.

  • There’s a big difference between tax break and tax penalty, Mr. Rothfus; one is money we already live without, the other is money that hits us where we live. Taxes, fines, and penalties are the way to defray the cost to all of us for the non-compliance of some of us. Show me where rewarding good behavior significantly reduces the need to punish poor behavior, because I pass a large, full, county jail on a regular basis that tells me otherwise. If someone thinks they should just wait until they need insurance to buy insurance, they ought to pay a penalty. Their chance for tax breaks, which are a part of the current plan, has passed. Perhaps you could explain how issues with the health care plan would be resolved now, with additional time now, when Congress has had plenty of time, and the best Republicans can come with is a 21+ hour waste of time and taxpayer money that included the reading of a children’s book, the moral of which was completely lost on the reader. I want to believe that you and other Republican leaders could answer the national health care crisis which will be on my doorstep the moment my husband retires: however, my faith in the members of my party is fading as fast as you can say, “Sam, I am”, and the restoration thereof has not yet made its way to my horizon.

  • Get over it Keith. The ACA didn’t go far enough. Health care should be the same for all Americans and not be determined by employers. Other countries do this successfully with little to no out of pocket costs or deductibles. If America is the greatest country in the world why can’t we make it happen here? Work on that instead of constantly fighting the democrats.

  • The fact that Robert has to work at a big box store for reduced hours SHOULD be your main concern here Keith! If corporations weren’t so damn money hungry MAYBE they would still pay for all of the benefits BECAUSE in the end we are the ones who made them their money. Since your greedy friends decided to rob the worker blind, we NEEDED Socialize Healthcare not this ACA crap that still gives money to the corporations. It should be single payer. Period. But your party was too busy licking the tea bags to do anything about it. So we have this! Deal with it! Or give us single payer!!

  • Anecdotal stories, which are often misconstrued or entirely fabricated by politicians, aren’t evidence that the Affordable Care Act is bad for Americans. Indeed, the majority aren’t even affected by it as they already have insurance through their employers. For the rest, the most noticeable change won’t happen until October 1st, and businesses won’t be impacted by new requirements until 2014. This time next year, when there are concrete and positive examples of health insurance reform, Rep. Rothfus is going to have a much more difficult time passing off this baloney to any but the most uninformed.

    For those complaining about rate increases, blame the private insurance industry. Rates have been exploding since the early 2000′s – long before Obama was even on the national stage.

  • Hey you little twerp, you’ve already voted to repeal the ACA 42 frigging times! The ACA passed both Houses, was signed into law, and upheld by SCOTUS. It’s the ***damn law ***hole!!! So you and your Tea Party overlords shut SFU and do your frigging jobs.

  • I have gathered all of the information I can, from the internet, local papers, official government sources, left and right news organizations, and I have come to the conclusion that the ACA will not impact me personally due to the above mentioned post, I currently have insurance through a company sponsored plan, of course, the plan is not free, I am currently paying over 300 dollars a month for a reasonable family plan, no complaints here. So why do I post a comment here? I ask myself this, show me a government program that is operated in a reasonably responsible manner, Social Security? Post Office, Medicare/Medicaid? the Treasury? IRS? not that I am naive as to the waste and abuse at all government levels, but to put the trust of millions of people’s health care into the hands of the Federal government, beyond Medicare and Medicaid, I believe no one can blame me for being a bit on the wary side. The ACA is here to stay, this I am sure, hopefully the ya-hoo’s in DC, both DEM and REP, can put their petty #@$ differences to the side and get some work done……………you will have to excuse me, just fell out the back of the truck and hit my head…GFTL

  • Isn’t it ironic the day your op-ed was printed the headline for the Times said
    “PA. TO OFFER AMONG LOWEST-COST PREMIUMS”.

    That proves (to me, at least) what a worthless jerk you are. All you do is bitch about Obama and it’s wearing thin. So, knock it off and do the job you were elected to do. And that does NOT mean cutting people’s food stamps, for God’s sake.

    I understand there is a certain percentage of free-loaders in society who take advantage of everything they can (like politicians?). On the other hand, there are those, THROUGH NO FAULT OF THEIR OWN, who find themselves in a bind, financial or otherwise, and some of them have to resort to food stamps.

    But NO, wait! You heartless teabaggers CUT the food stamp program. So, be proud of yourself the next time you sit down to a prime-rib meal with your cohorts in DC at a fat-cat restaurant (all paid for by the taxpayers whose meals YOU cut).

    I’ve NEVER used vulgar language in a post; I’ve never understood why someone would do that.
    Now I see why. I guess extreme frustration in the face of complete idiocy can drive one to ask, WHAT THE FUCK IS WRONG WITH YOU?

    I DIDN’T VOTE FOR YOU THE FIRST TIME AND I WONT VOTE FOR YOU … EVER!!

  • Medinfo 2000, have you happened to be at a convenience store at the beginning of the month and seen what your food stamps buy? Food stamps should be used to buy healthy food for the people who need it. If they are truly in need a slim Jim is not the solution. Financial planning classes and drug tests should be mandatory for those that partake of the program. the food stamp abuses I’ve witnessed blow my mind. The other day a lady had two cases of coke, two liters of mt. Dew and 2 first step TV dinners. You know the ones for toddlers. Wrong priorities. The system needs fixed or defended!

    • Actually Union No, I DO agree with a lot of what you say (suprise!), BUT did you REALLY read what I said? As I plainly stated, I know a portion of the population is abusing the system, but NOT everyone using it is. Allow me to explain, so even YOU might understand.

      There are a lot of people who’ve lost their jobs, THROUGH NO FAULT OF THEIR OWN, took a minimum job to work (because that’s all that is available), but need food stamp assistance to exist, including a lot of military personnel. (Plus a lot of other NON-UNION jobs. That non-union stuff ought to make you happy – maybe if these greedy corporations paid a living wage, so many wouldn’t need food stamps).

      So, the lady bought 2 first step dinners. The ones for toddlers. How do you know she doesn’t have a toddler at home? When were you drafted into the Food Police?

      Yes, I agree. Drug test anyone who uses any kind of federal funds. That includes YOU the next time you drive on a FEDERALLY FUNDED interstate.

      Yes, I agree. The food stamp system needs fixed. So FIX it Keith, don’t CUT it.
      And quit wasting all this time and OUR money fighting the ACA. IT’S BEEN PASSED.
      IT’S THE LAW.

      • Oops!! As reads “…took a minimum job to work…”
        should read “took a minimum wage job to work…”

        Sorry!!

  • TeaBagger Keith, and his wacko bird Tea Party collegues, are heartless bastards. Screw the poor. Screw the uninsured. Screw the unemployed. The Sewickley millionare is a worse than Missy Hart.

  • Dear Congressman Teabag….it cost the American people $1.5M everytime you followed your marching orders and held a vote to abolish the ACA. If this health care reform is as bad as you say, why not just let it go into effect and let the American people find out and vote the people who supported it out. Is that too hard to understand? I think that you Teapublicans are going to see how good it is and worry that the American people will find out how you lied to us about it. Thinking back to 1965, Medicare was going to ruin our Senior’s healthcare….didn’t happen. In 1936, Social Security was going to bankrupt the county…didn’t happen. Until your party has a plan to replace it, let it go. If Mittwitt had won and tried to put in his Massachusetts plan, which is basically the ACA, you Teapublicans would be singing its praises…Let it go!!! Work for us, not against us. Reform SNAP…don’t cut it. Tax the rich…you always want to go back to the fifties….tax them like you did in the 50s. Quit bitching about the black guy, quit spouting the rehearsed lines that you have been fed. Start working for the people who elected you (not me), and show us that you have a backbone to stand up and say….Enough is enough!! I have to represent my district.

  • Here, here “A Regular Guy”. Couldn’t have said it better. The problem is however, this *****bag feels everyone agrees with him. I say picket his offices all day, every day. Then get rid of this right-wing wacko bird next November.

  • I’ve been self-employed since 2001 so I’m tired of being bent over by my health insurance providers. If at the very least Obamacare slows the rate increases (which it looks like it may do) I’ll consider it a success. The ACA may not be perfect, but at least this guy put something viable out there.

    You wrote: “The President’s health care law, however, is not ready for primetime, so let’s delay it and work on a better way.” Are any laws you assholes put together ever “ready for primetime”? Was No Child Left Behind ready? The Patriot Act? How about the financial bailouts?

    I voted for you. Now stop delaying and get some fucking work done.

  • I see that the Teapublicans are going to leave the doors to government open as long as the Democrats fold to your demands….You make a big deal about paying the servicemen, but the Democrats have to agree to let a legally passed law be put on hold for a year. That is not the way government works. Congress passed the ACA, the President signed it, the Supreme Court reviewed it, and its the law. By putting it on hold for a year, all you are doing is kicking the can down the road. What is going to be different next year that will allow this bill to take effect. It is the law….let it go!!!

  • Way to go Keith! Tonight at midnight the government shuts down. I have NEVER seen a bunch of so-called “politicians” behave like this. As far as I’m concerned, you’re no better than a band of terrorists holding the U.S. hostage until you get your way.

    You (and the rest of the tea-baggers) should really be proud, shutting down the country just because you don’t like the ACA (which, by the way, IS the law of the land!) What a bunch of losers!

  • Well, well, well. The Tea Party’s Golden Boy has shut down the government. You, and your d-bag cohorts, really did it this time. Happy? Question: if you hate the government so much why did you run for office? Do us all a favor and go back to your precious private sector.

  • Keith – I’ve been sending emails to your office (and I get replies that say you are working for ME). Ha – fat chance!

    Because, if you were (and if your minions are monitoring this page, pass it on) I have a message for you: GET YOUR HEAD OUTTA YOUR ASS AND SIGN THE FRIGGING BUDGET!!!