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The politics of health care: Congressman speaks to women's group about repealing 'Obamacare'
Kelsey Kruzich / Staff Photo: Rep. Michael Burgess speaks to the Plano Republican Women's Club Tuesday.
With less than three weeks until Election Day, people of all political stripes are mobilizing to drum up last minute support for their candidates.
As part of their work to get Mitt Romney elected president, the Plano Republican Women's Club met Tuesday to hear from Republican Rep. Michael Burgess, a medical doctor who spoke in length on the issue of national health care as well as the pending fiscal cliff he said the county is facing.
Burgess said Republicans must be ready to act quickly to take control of the Senate and White House on Nov. 6.
"What happens on Election Day is important, and it is going to dictate the future going forward," Burgess said. "... If we just get 50 senators, we will be able to pass under reconciliation a repeal of the major portions of the Affordable Care Act [with vice presidential hopeful Paul Ryan serving as the tie-breaking vote].
"I would like very much to have that bill available for the president to sign right after he comes off the west steps of the Capitol [after being sworn in]."
Regardless of what happens next month and who controls the White House, Burgess said changes will have to be made to the Affordable Health Care Act since it is unsustainable as currently written.
"For health care, this doesn't work," he said. "We can't pay for it. ... [If Obama is re-elected] his administration will have to work with what I hope will still be a Republican-controlled house to resolve these issues."
Communication between House leaders and the Obama administration regarding the health care law is virtually non-existent, Burgess said, and many details surrounding the act are still unclear. He added that the Department of Health and Human Services has still not set guidelines for states that are setting up insurance exchanges, even though the deadline to do so is in mid-November.
The other pressing issue facing the country is what Burgess called the fiscal cliff the country is approaching. Americans will see their tax payments increase at the end of the year if the Bush tax cuts are not extended. Congress also faces a Jan. 2 deadline to prevent large cuts to defense spending and other areas of the federal budget due to the sequestration provision of the Budget Control Act of 2011.
"Everyone recognizes that when those two things are taken together, the deficit may look a lot better the next day, but it is going to take a big toll on the economy," he said. "This is something that needs some modification, but the bad news is that right now no one is talking about it."
Burgess said he doubts anything will be voted on prior to the election. He said hopefully something will be worked out before end of year deadlines. If automatic budget cuts are made, then further raises to the debt limit, which could be required early next year, are going to be even more complicated, he said.
"Speaker John Boehner, assuming he is still speaker, will say the same thing as last time, 'Any dollar the debt limit is increased has to be offset with cuts,'" Burgess said. "... I don't think you can go to defense for additional cuts ... Where will you go? The Affordable Care Act."
Burgess is a Lewisville resident who was first elected to the House in 2002. He faces Democrat David Sanchez and Libertarian Mark Koler on Nov. 6.