U.S. Congressman Jody Hice | E-Newsletter
U.S. Congressman Jody Hice

Repealing Obamacare, Part One

Dear Friends,

For far too many Americans, the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, has been anything but affordable. Premiums have soared, coverage has plummeted, and insurers are leaving the market in droves, making a dire situation even worse. Small and large businesses cannot afford to grow or expand, and Obamacare continues to inflate our out-of-control national debt at an alarming speed. Simply put, the program is insolvent and is bankrupting our Nation.

Working to fulfill the promises I’ve made to you, last week, I voted to advance H.R. 1628, the American Health Care Act (AHCA). In the House, we’ve worked nonstop for months to make sure that we have built the coalitions and made the necessary changes to the bill to ultimately produce a better piece of legislation that lowers premiums, protects people with pre-existing conditions, and provides patients with more choices when it comes to their own health care decisions.

Obamacare has caused enormous damage to the American health care system, and it is critically important that it be replaced with an approach that lowers premiums, improves the quality of care, and puts more decisions in the hands of patients and their health care providers. The AHCA is a big step toward this goal.

Below is a brief summary of the American Health Care Act:

Repealing Obamacare

  • Repeals both the individual and employer mandate penalties.
  • Repeals the Obamacare subsidies by 2020.
  • Repeals tax increases associated with Obamacare.
  • Repeals taxes imposed on medical devices, health insurers, and prescription drugs.

Additional Amendments

  • The managers amendment adopted a series of technical and policy provisions, including instituting work requirements for able-bodied, childless adults on Medicaid.
  • The Palmer Amendment, authored by Representative Gary Palmer of Alabama, creates a Federal Invisible Risk Sharing Program (FIRSP), which guarantees affordable coverage for people with pre-existing conditions or those in poor health, who get insurance outside of their employer.
  • The MacArthur Amendment, sponsored by Representative Tom MacArthur of New Jersey, empowers states to seek and obtain waivers from Obamacare’s most costly, premium-spiking insurance mandates.
  • The Upton Amendment, spearheaded by Representative Fred Upton of Michigan, provides an additional $8 billion to reduce costs for patients with pre-existing conditions and shores up protections for some of our most vulnerable citizens.

Providing Tax Credits

  • Provides an advanceable, refundable tax credit for individuals and families who do not get health insurance through their employer or the government.
  • Adjusted for age and grows over time, with a maximum credit of $4,000 for an individual and $14,000 for a family.
  • Available in full to those making up to $75,000 per year ($150,000 for joint filers) and phases out by $100 for every $1,000 in additional income above those thresholds.

Expanding Health Savings Accounts (HSAs)

  • Increases contribution limits for Health Savings Accounts – In 2017, those levels would be equal to $6,550 for individuals (up from $3,400) and $13,100 for families (up from $6,750).
  • Allows spouses who are HSA-eligible and age 55 or older to deposit their catch-up contributions into one HSA account.
  • Treats HSAs as having been opened on the same day as the high-deductible health plan so there are no gaps in which HSA funds can be used for qualified medical expenses.

Additional Provisions

  • Places a one-year moratorium on government funding for Planned Parenthood.
  • Repeals the actuarial value standards established by Obamacare (bronze, silver, gold, platinum) to improve flexibility in plan design.
  • Adjusts the ratio for age variation in health insurance premium rate to five-to-one, while also giving states the flexibility to set their own ratio.

I also voted in favor of H.R. 2192, a technical correction to the AHCA and its amendments to ensure that everyone, including Members of Congress and Congressional staff, live under the same rules as everyone else.

However, our work is not over. In order to pass the Senate and get it to the President’s desk for his signature, this bill will be considered under a special procedure known as “budget reconciliation,” which only requires 51 votes in the Senate. Rest assured that more improvements are coming. Furthermore, the Trump Administration and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price will support the reform effort by reviewing and initiating administrative actions that bring down costs and put patients, families, and doctors in charge of medical decisions.

Hice in the House

On Tuesday, the House passed H.R. 1180, the Working Families Flexibility Act of 2017, by a vote of 229-197. This legislation empowers the private sector to offer employees a choice between cash wages and comped time for overtime hours worked. It would also protect employees by requiring both the employer and the employee to complete a written agreement to use comped time, while retaining all existing employee protections under current law. Not only will this increase productivity and morale, it will also strengthen our communities and put the needs of workers first.

The House also overwhelmingly passed H.R. 1644, which issues new tighter, harsher sanctions on North Korea and sends a clear message that we are watching them closely. The North Korean regime must know that if they attempt to attack us, or our close allies, they will pay a very heavy price. 

Committee Action

Any breach of classified data is a cause for concern. Last week, in a House Oversight and Government Reform Committee hearing, I questioned officials from the Department of Education and the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) regarding a data breach of an online IRS tool students use to access information needed for the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). Not only did this breach negatively impact over 120,000 people, taxpayers will also pay around $32 million to reimburse the victims of identify fraud as a direct result of this easily avoidable breach.

Even more troubling is the fact that – as early as October of 2016 – IRS officials realized the online tool could be susceptible to an attack, and yet they did not notify Congress of these issues nor implement changes to fix the system. This is just another scandal plaguing the IRS, which has abused Americans for decades and should be held accountable for the carelessness of its actions. Click here to watch my line of questioning. 

A Victory for Religious Liberty

America was built on the principle that free speech and free exercise of religion are unalienable rights. Unfortunately, in recent years, the balance has shifted away from protecting our First Amendment rights, as many of us are forced to give up our right to free speech as soon as we walk through the doors of our houses of worship.

Thankfully, the President took action to restore those basic rights by signing the “Promoting Free Speech and Religious Liberty” executive order. This executive order (1) reaffirms the Administration’s commitment to protecting and promoting religious liberty, (2) alleviates the burden of the Johnson Amendment, which prohibits religious leaders from speaking about political matters from the pulpit, (3) grants immediate relief to those who object to Obamacare’s preventative-care mandate based on religious or moral grounds, and (4) directs the Department of Justice to issue across-the-board agency guidance protecting religious liberty.

Since any subsequent President can rescind executive orders, Majority Whip Steve Scalise (R-LA) and I are working on a legislative solution – H.R. 781, the Free Speech Fairness Act - to clear the suppression of free speech once and for all. With that in mind, the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee held a hearing last week to examine the Johnson Amendment's effect on churches and other non-profit organizations. To watch my opening statement, click here. To watch the full committee hearing, click here.

I also want to thank Family Research Council and FRC President Tony Perkins for inviting me to their policy lecture last Tuesday to discuss the significance of the Free Speech Fairness Act and how it will restore the cultural voice of America's pastors. To watch my remarks, click here

 
Alzheimer's Awareness

Almost every American – including myself – has a close family member or dear friend who has suffered from Alzheimer’s. Join me this Thursday at the Warren County Senior Citizen Center for a free, informational event to discuss ways to care for a loved one with Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia. Working in collaboration with the Alzheimer’s Association, I will provide a legislative update, speak with Alzheimer’s patients, families, and caregivers about their experiences with the disease, and lead a question and answer forum for others to share their personal stories.

What:  Coffee and Conversation with Congressman Hice
Who:  U.S. Representative Jody Hice, the Alzheimer’s Association, and 10th District residents
When: Thursday, May 11, 2017 from 10:30 am – 11:30 am
Where: Warren County Senior Citizen Center
48 Warren Street
Warrenton, GA 30828

For more information, please call 706-564-1286.  Coffee and light refreshments will be served.  Registration is not required.

 
The Week Ahead

I’m thrilled to be back home in the 10th District where I will meet with many of you, honor a Mansfield student on his appointment to the U.S. Naval Academy, address the Jackson-Butts County Rotary Club, tour local industries and communities, and participate in an Alzheimer’s awareness event. 

As always, I want to hear from you. Please contact my office with any questions, comments, or concerns. Visit my Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages for more updates about my work in Washington on your behalf.

Sincerely, 

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TOP NEWS

Hice on TV
WGXA Fox Macon (Connect to Congress) – 5/1
Fox Business: Cavuto Coast to Coast – 5/3
Fox Business: Varney & Co. – 5/3
WMAZ CBS (Macon) – 5/4 

Hice honors winners of congressional art competition
Walton Tribune – 5/3
U.S. Rep. Jody Hice unveiled the winning entry for the 2017 Congressional Art Competition on Saturday. During a public ceremony at the Monroe Art Guild, Hice revealed that Emma Babushkin, a sophomore at Mill Creek High School, won first place with her graphite sketch, titled “Theodore.”

Rep. Jody Hice Talks Healthcare, Tax Reform with Covington Rotarians
EMetroTimes – 5/2
Jody Hice, United States Representative for Georgia’s 10th Congressional District, spoke to the Rotary Club of Covington Tuesday, April 25, 2017, about several big issues currently in the United States Congress. Hice, who was a guest speaker at the Rotary Club’s weekly meeting, shared the number of Congressional Review Acts passed since January and discussed both healthcare and tax reform. He also talked about two current controversial topics.


Trump signs order protecting churches that get political
Atlanta Journal-Constitution – 5/4
U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, R-Monroe, derided the Johnson amendment Thursday in a speech before the Oversight and Government Reform Committee. “This amendment is an accident in our nation’s history,” Hice said, calling it “an attempt to get back (at) the opposition to a legislator.” For 60 years, Hice said, the Johnson Amendment has been used “as a bully stick to intimidate churches and charitable organizations into silence. Most of us are not aware of the selfish motive behind this amendment.”

Counterpoint: Trump — Destroying the Johnson Amendment
Inside Sources – 5/1
The Free Speech Fairness Act, sponsored in the House by Majority Whip Steve Scalise of Louisiana and Rep. Jody Hice (R-Georgia) and in the Senate by Sen. James Lankford (R-Oklahoma), does exactly that. It amends Section 501(c)3 to permit statements related to political campaigns as long as they (1) are made in the organization’s ordinary course of its activities for which it was founded, and (2) incur no more than minimal, incidental costs. It does this for all 501(c)3 tax-exempt organizations — churches or not, and regardless of their mi
ssion, focus or political views.

Jody Hice talks health care, tax reform
WGXA TV – 5/1
WGXA spoke with Congressman Jody Hice on health care reform. Under the Affordable Care Act, some patients have fewer heath insurance companies to choose from. Hice said that needs to change. "Even in the 10th district of Georgia, 16 of our 25 counties only have one provider," Hice said. "Many places in the country have zero providers. "That's inexcusable and we need to let free enterprise work and allow insurance companies develop plans that are best for the American people." Hice said more choice will help drive down prices for everyone.

POLITICAL NOTEBOOK: Mill Creek student wins Hice’s congressional art contest
Gwinnett Daily Post – 5/2
Mill Creek High School sophomore Emma Babushkin’s artwork is about to be on view for some of the most powerful people in the world. That’s because Babushkin’s graphite sketch, “Theodore,” was named the first-place winner in U.S. Rep. Jody Hice’s, R-Ga., 10th Congressional District Art Competition. As a result, her piece is now headed to Washington D.C., where it will stay for one year. “Emma’s artwork will be displayed in the U.S. Capitol, alongside the masterpieces of contest winners nationwide, and I’m so proud of her achievement,” Hice said in a statement.

FAFSA Data Breach Hearing Produces Drama on Hill
Diverse – 5/3
Republican lawmakers excoriated IRS and U.S. Department of Education officials as “incompetent” or “untruthful” Wednesday at a lengthy hearing on a security breach that led to the shutdown of the IRS Data Retrieval Tool — an online tool known as the DRT that makes it easier for students to apply for federal financial aid and student loans. “It appears to me, at the end of the day, you’re either in denial of what happened or you’re incompetent or you’re just untruthful in what’s happening here,” said U.S. Rep. Jody Hice, R-Ga. Hice was speaking collectively to five witnesses — two from the education department, two from the IRS and one from the U.S. Treasury — called to testify Wednesday at a House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform hearing pegged as the “FAFSA Data Breach.” (FAFSA is the acronym for Free Application for Federal Student Aid.)

NRATV: Where is Our National Reciprocity Bill?
NRA A1F – 5/4
This morning on Stinchfield, Grant was joined by Rep. Jody Hice (R-GA) to discuss the schedule for passing National Reciprocity. President Trump has previously expressed that he would sign this bill, but Grant asks Rep. Hice: where is it? "Just from talking to colleagues, there's a lot of traction, a lot of movement, a lot of interest in it," Hice said. "We've all heard the horror stories of getting pulled over from one state to the next, and it's just insane. If a driver's license is good from one state to the next, a concealed carry permit ought to be as well."

Top takeaways from Senate Ag’s farm bill hearing
Politico – 5/8
The lone Democrat who signed the letter, David Scott, has made out the best on campaign contributions from the processor groups, receiving $24,000 for his 2016 campaign and another $3,500 this year, based on MA’s review. Also worth noting: Republican Rep. Doug Collins received $20,300 from processors in 2016 and another $3,500 for 2018. Others who signed the letter, which was spearheaded by Rep. Austin Scott, and received contributions from the meat processing groups include GOP members Rick Allen, Buddy Carter, Tom Graves, Jody Hice, Rob Woodall, Drew Ferguson and Barry Loudermilk.

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