Northeast Queens’ voice on Capitol Hill is part of a bipartisan group presenting a new health care proposal.
Congressman Tom Suozzi, who represents sections of Whitestone, Bayside, Douglaston, Little Neck and Long Island, is the vice chair of the Problem Solvers Caucus — a bipartisan group of lawmakers on Capitol Hill. Shortly after the U.S. Senate’s decision not to repeal the Affordable Care Act, or “Obamacare,” without a replacement on July 27, the caucus, made up of 22 Democrats and 22 Republicans, proposed a plan of their own.
In a conference call with reporters on Aug. 14, Suozzi outlined the bipartisan proposal, which puts stabilizing the individual market and reducing premiums at the forefront, he said. In an “amend, don’t end” approach, the plan would make certain changes without dissembling its basic foundations.
Among its five main policies, the group is proposing measures to reduce out-of-pockets costs related to deductibles and co-pays. They also propose a dedicated fund intended to be used to stabilize premiums and limit insurers’ losses for providing coverage.
In a move to appease its Republican members, the group also agreed to propose the repeal of the medical device tax, which adds a 2.3 percent sales tax on medical device supplies. They also propose to change the employer mandate for businesses to provide health insurance to its employees to businesses with more than 500 employees, rather than 50. Suozzi said he has spoken to experts who “don’t think [the employer mandate change] will have that much of an impact on the marketplace.”
They also propose to “provide technical changes and clear guidelines” regarding state regulations, allowing insurers to sell across state lines or regionally to “create more options for consumers.”
“This is not the end; this is only the beginning,” Suozzi said of the ongoing conversation surrounding healthcare. “There are problems with the ACA, everybody knows that … But this is a very important step.”
Coverage for pre-existing conditions, for children under a parent’s plan until age 26 and mental health services under the ACA would be retained, the Congressman said.
“These essential health benefits will continue to be required,” Suozzi said.
“The public is sick of politicians,” the lawmaker closed. “They just want us to get something done … That’s what the public demands.”