COLUMN: Health Care, Regulations, and Public Lands Among Top Concerns in Third Congressional District

I recently had the opportunity to visit with over 5,220 constituents during a telephone town hall meeting. With one of the largest congressional districts in the country – 29 counties spanning nearly half the state of Colorado – I make a point to visit as many communities as I can throughout the year to hear from groups and hold public meetings. I typically hold my public meetings in the spring and summer months, which I will continue to do in the 115th Congress. In the winter and throughout the year, I use telephone town hall meetings as one platform for keeping in touch with constituents and sharing updates on my work.

I heard from constituents on a variety of topics during my hour-long telephone town hall, but the most frequently asked questions were about health care, regulations, and public lands.

Many families in Colorado are facing an average deductible of more than $6,000 under Obamacare, and in some cases their premiums have exceed their mortgage payments each month. I consistently hear from people that they can say they are insured, but they can’t afford to use their health insurance or find providers in their communities who will accept additional Medicare or Medicaid patients. This is unacceptable and unsustainable, and it is why I am working to repeal and replace Obamacare with a health care system that gives Coloradans and Americans in every corner of the country access to affordable health care services.

House Republicans recently released the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which is the draft reconciliation bill that makes up the first part of our three-part strategy for repealing and replacing Obamacare. Reconciliation is an important tool for getting our health care system back on track, however, it has limitations on what changes can be made. Reconciliation prohibits provisions that have no budgetary effect, which is why there are a number of Obamacare provisions that are not addressed within the AHCA. These provisions will be addressed in the second and third pieces of our repeal and replace strategy.

The second part of the strategy involves HHS Secretary Tom Price using the administrative authority granted to him in the law to determine whether certain provisions need to continue to be enforced, as well as whether to repeal and, or replace additional rules and regulations. This process has already started.

The third and final part of our repeal and replace strategy will require Congress to pull from existing replacement proposals to develop a bill that addresses the components of Obamacare that will remain, following reconciliation and the actions taken by the HHS Secretary.

In its current form, the AHCA is not perfect, and I intend to continue to carefully review the details of this plan over the coming days and weeks. At this point, I have concerns about some of the provisions, but I am confident that we can work through an open amendment process and deliver a final product that takes a strong step in the right direction for Americans.

During the telephone town hall meeting I also heard from constituents who had questions about some of the resolutions Congress has passed to roll back the regulatory overreach of the Obama Administration.

Congress has a tool called the Congressional Review Act (CRA), which gives the House and Senate the authority to consider resolutions of disapproval that would void regulations that have been finalized by the executive branch. So far this year, Congress has used the CRA to void two of the previous administration’s midnight regulations, and there are several other resolutions of disapproval that are in the process of being considered by the House and Senate.

One regulation that was voided was the Department of the Interior’s (DOI) stream buffer rule. Prior to proposing the rule, the DOI conducted its own investigative report, which showed that nearly all coal mines around the country have no off-site impacts. Yet, the department finalized 1,640-pages of mandates that would apply to every coal mine in the country. The rule would have had little environmental benefit, given the protections that are already in place under the Clean Water Act, and would have only served to regulate away good-paying jobs and our most reliable energy source in use today.

When it comes to public lands, I have and always will fight to protect Colorado’s pristine areas and cultural treasures. In 2014, I worked to designate over 70,000 acres of the San Juan National Forest as the Hermosa Creek Special Management Area, and I also carried legislation through the House to designate Chimney Rock as a national monument. Earlier this year, I joined my Colorado colleague, U.S. Rep. Jared Polis, in introducing a bill that expands the boundary of the Arapaho National Forest.

If you are interested in listening to the complete telephone town hall, you can do so on my YouTube channel or by downloading the link from my recent press release: Tipton Talks Health Care, Regulations, and Public Lands During Telephone Town Hall.