Newly-elected Republican Congressman Tom Garrett has yet to meet with constituents in Charlottesville. Many of them want to talk with him about keeping the Affordable Care Act, but late last week Garrett told NPR that he has a better idea.
Tom Garrett is a tea party Republican who is opposing Paul Ryan’s plan to replace the Affordable Care Act. Instead, he suggests a free market solution --asking hospitals and doctors to care for the nation’s sickest people at no charge, in exchange for a tax break.
“Take the entire high risk, pre-existing condition pool and say we have a national interest in insuring these folks. You guys provide care. To the extent that you provide care for them, we’ll let you deduct that from your back end federal taxes.”
The idea dumbfounded Washington and Lee Professor emeritus Tim Jost, a national expert on heatlh care reform.
“It’s hard to know how to respond to that. We’re talking about billions and billions of dollars that low income people need in care – that they now get through the Medicaid program or through the Affordable Care Act, and it is not credible to believe that healthcare professionals and hospitals are going to or would even be financially capable of providing that level of care simply for a tax deduction.”
NPR asked Garrett if opposition from Republicans like him might ultimately defeat Paul Ryan’s plan and leave the Affordable Care Act in place.
“Well I suppose it’s conceivable, but what we know is the system is broken. It’s in a death spiral. It’s unsustainable, so we can’t do nothing.”
Professor Tim Jost says Garrett is wrong about that.
“The Affordable Care Act actually has ended up costing far less than what it was projected to cost. The marketplace in Virginia is functioning reasonably well.”
But, he warned that Republican efforts to replace the Affordable Care Act might prompt insurance companies to stop selling individual policies nationwide, leaving millions of people – again -- without coverage.