On the eve of the U.S. House of Representatives’ vote to repeal President Barack Obama’s sweeping health-care reforms, U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton hosted a telephone town-hall meeting with constituents.
House Republicans today will vote on House Resolution 2, a measure that would undo the health-care bill passed by the previous Democratic-controlled Congress.
Most of the constituents who spoke during the town-hall meeting supported repeal though no one, Tipton included, wanted a return to the health-care system before passage of reform.
“I support repeal 100 percent,” said ‘Dan’ from Grand Junction. “There’s just no way we can go back to the old system.”
Tipton, R-Cortez, agreed. Accessibility and affordability of health care is paramount, he said, adding that the health-care reforms passed by the previous Congress addressed neither.
Accessibility is an especially important issue for Tipton. In his rural district, he said there are places where “access for medical care simply is not there.” Incentives should be provided to doctors who practice in under-served areas, Tipton said.
‘Susie’ from Montrose asked if he would “fight like a tiger” to pass health-care repeal. Tipton assured her he would. He said he had no doubts HR 2 would pass the House, where Republicans enjoy a comfortable 242-193 majority, but he acknowledged it would probably die in the Senate, which the Democrats control.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., has indicated he will not allow the bill to go to a vote in the chamber, Tipton said. “I think it is unfortunate. I think if something passes the House, it certainly ought to be considered by U.S. Senate.”
‘Marcia’ from Gunnison broke ranks, arguing the health-care reform didn’t go far enough.
“More people in America want health-care reform to be increased rather than repealed,” she said, saying health-care costs are increasing and insurance companies are paying less.
Tipton didn’t entirely disagree. He agreed reforms should deal with improved cost-control and premiums need to be more affordable. At one point, he said, people with pre-existing conditions should have some protections.
But instead of government-based solutions, Tipton advocated market-based solutions.
One market solution, Tipton said, would be to allow small businesses to form larger groups in order to negotiate lower insurance premiums. And if insurance companies were allowed to sell premiums across state lines, he said, increased competition would drive down consumer costs. “I think we all believe there needs to be some kind of reform,” he said. “As well-intentioned as the bill was ... I don’t think it was well thought out.”
Earlier in the day, in Tipton’s first floor speech before the House of Representatives, the freshman spoke to his colleagues, arguing his case for repeal.
“The deeper we dig into the health-care act, the more we discover that it is stopping job creation, building more government and placing a tax burden on American families who are already struggling,” he said. “We can and must do better.”
President Obama said he is willing to work with Democrats and Republicans to improve the new health-care law, but he warned lawmakers shouldn’t “go backward” and repeal it.
In a statement, Obama said Americans deserve the freedom and security of knowing insurance companies can’t deny, cap or drop their coverage when they need it most.
White House spokesman Robert Gibbs on Tuesday has dismissed the House vote, saying it’s not “a serious legislative effort.” While Obama would likely veto the measure if it got as far as the White House, Gibbs says he doesn’t think it’s going anywhere.
Rep. Tipton represents Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District, an area that spans much of Western Colorado, including Durango, Cortez, Grand Junction and Pueblo. Tipton received 50.2 percent of the vote in the Nov. 2, 2010, election, defeating incumbent John Salazar, who received 45.6 percent of the vote.
The Associated Press and Herald Intern Gavin Wisdom contributed to this report.