Interview with Congresswoman Dr. Nan Hayworth on the Affordable Care Act and other options for American healthcare
BY SCOTT MAIER
Democrats who control the U.S. Senate have called these attempts counterproductive, while according to Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi it’s “a bill to nowhere.” But Republican Nan Hayworth of New York’s 19th Congressional district which currently encompasses most of North Rockland, and a member of the House Doctor’s Caucus, disagrees. Instead, she sees the most recent vote as the will of the American People.
Representative Hayworth sees in the ACA, nicknamed by its critics a”Obamacare,” an amount of added bureaucracy that will create difficulty in implementing care, and ultimately contribute to the rising costs of treatments. In her practice as a doctor in the Hudson Valley, she noted that paperwork already detracts from time spent with patients.
Americans have brought much resistance to the ACA, and it came close to being struck down by the Supreme Court, but what of other options for legislation to help update America’s system? America has not heard too many other ideas for change.
Hayworth believes in a four-fold approach to resolving what she sees as the pressing issues in the healthcare industry, and given the opportunity to create her own bill she would focus on these four pillars in order to lower costs and increase coverage across America.
First, the congresswoman would make personal health savings accounts the standard by which Americans were able to fund their healthcare.
Representative Hayworth has pointed to a voluntary health savings account program for state workers in Indiana as a framework off of which a successful national approach can be modeled. The program in Indiana began with a participation rate around 4 percent and has risen to 90 percent today.
The money in these accounts is withdrawn from paychecks on a voluntary basis and is deductable from net taxable income. The money is also eligible to accrue tax-free interest.
The drawback of such a plan, a yearly maximum contribution is around $3,000 for individuals and $6,000 for families, which make the plan ineffective for larger, more expensive health problems such as surgery or long-term disease.
Additionally, Nan Hayworth would open up the sale of insurance across state lines so that people have the opportunity to have competing plans that are easier to afford. “Opening up that competition will certainly allow people to have better choices,” she said.
Representative Hayworth sees liability insurance as a major contributor to the cost of healthcare. As her third pillar, she would like to see doctor liability insurance remodeled in a way that simplifies liability for doctors, and drops the cost of this insurance, which would ultimately make it easier for doctors to practice medicine freely and lower overall costs.
Lastly, she would like to help the people who would be potentially unable to find insurance that suited them by having high risk pools state by state, and provide state funding for the coverage for these individuals until they are capable of doing so on their own.
“What I think you can expect is that with repeal there will of course be an immediate charge to work as rapidly as possible on a replacement plan. But having said that, I think it’s true that we would not want to launch a massive new measure without making sure that we fully assessed its implications.”
When asked what an individual who is struggling with health costs can do right now, representative Hayworth instead offered that the broad strokes of the solution include things like simplifying the tax code, creating personal responsibility in a free healthcare market, and increasing domestic energy production.
With regards to her colleagues across the aisle in Washington, Congresswoman Hayworth believes that “We all share the goals of every American having good affordable healthcare and affordable portable health insurance, but we need to do those great things without conferring $2 trillion of Washington-generated costs on hardworking Americans and on an economy that needs to grow.”
The current Democrat-controlled Senate is likely to vote down any measure which significantly alters the 2010 Affordable Care Act, as is the president, but representative Hayworth holds faith that over time Democrats may see wisdom in softening their position or changing their vote, and that is why she, as well as her fellow House Republicans, will continue to bring votes to the floor which would repeal the new healthcare law.
And, of course, if the GOP wins in a sweep in 2012, you can expect the legislation to be mostly or completely repealed.
Note— Rep. Hayworth’s district will no longer encompass North Rockland as of 2013.