As a physician with more than 30 years of experience—and co-chairman of the GOP Doctors Caucus—taking care of patients has been my life’s work. That’s why my top priority in Congress is repealing Obamacare and replacing it with patient-centered health reforms that will improve access to care, lower costs, and improve quality.
Medicare for All
I completely agree that our country is in need of health care reforms. Our present system costs too much, has too much complexity, and often does not promote quality or value. We need patient-centered health care, but I do not believe “Medicare for All” will deliver these reforms.
I voted against the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) in the 111th Congress, and have since been leading the charge to repeal the law and replace it with commonsense reforms.
I supported H.R. 1628, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which passed the House on May 4, 2017 by a vote of 217 to 213. AHCA repeals Obamacare and replaces it with patient-centered, free-market reforms designed to spur competition, lower costs, and improve the quality of care – all while maintaining consumer protections such as for pre-existing conditions. While the Senate failed to act on this legislation, I will continue working with the Trump administration and my colleagues in the Senate to find a path forward to repeal and replace Obamacare.
I also introduced H.R. 277, the American Health Care Reform Act, in the last Congress. This bill, supported by a majority of House Republicans, puts free-market competition to work for patients and their families. Specifically, H.R. 277 would:
I will continue working to enact free-market, patient-centered health care reform that lowers cost, improves quality, and increases access.
I am deeply concerned about the opioid epidemic and believe we need to act to address this growing problem. More Tennesseans died from drug overdoses than from car wrecks in 2017, and nationally, this epidemic killed more people last year than the entire number of U.S. casualties in the Vietnam War. I am hopeful H.R. 6 will provide meaningful assistance to those on the front lines fighting this epidemic.
I was also proud to support H.R. 6, the Substance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment for Patients and Communities Act, which passed the House on June 22, 2018, by a vote of 396 to 14. The legislation enhances Medicare and Medicaid coverage to allow for medication-assisted treatment for substance abuse, expanded use of telehealth services, and incentives for the use of non-opioid prescription alternatives. Additionally, the legislation includes provisions to better fight against the influx of synthetic opioids, such as fentanyl, which are having devastating impacts on many communities; to enhance physician awareness of patients who should not be prescribed opioids because of a prior addiction; and to provide for better disposal of unused prescription opioids, which often become a source that fuels addiction, among others.
As a physician, I believe it’s imperative we act to protect patients from surprise medical bills, and I am grateful President Trump is leading the way. What I know from experience is that surprise bills occur when providers and insurers cannot agree on fair reimbursements. As a member of the House Education and Labor Committee, I stated at a hearing in April examining this issue that I have seen how surprise bills arise since I have been negotiated out of health care networks. There are no innocents in this when you look at insurers, hospitals and providers. Everyone is culpable, but Congress does not need to invent a new solution to fix this problem to hold patients harmless when negotiations break down. Our states have provided excellent examples for a path forward.
For that reason, I am proud to be working with Rep. Raul Ruiz, M.D. to introduce bipartisan legislation, the Protecting People from Surprise Medical Bills Act. This legislation is based on a successful model in New York state to resolve medical billing issues that uses an independent dispute resolution (IDR) process when an insurer and provider cannot agree on the cost of care. This legislation will also ban the practice of billing patients for unanticipated out-of-network care and improve transparency by requiring health plans to clearly identify in-network providers and patient deductibles. Within three years of implementing its arbitration legislation, New York’s surprise bills have declined by 70 percent. This arbitration process, which some people refer to as “baseball-style” because it resembles the process used by Major League Baseball to resolve salary disputes, is fair to everyone. The process ensures patients do not receive unanticipated bills and gives providers and insurers a neutral arbitrator who can resolve disputes about who is responsible for the cost of providing care.