Fleischmann, GOP eye fast track on Obamacare repeal, tax reform

Fleischmann, GOP eye fast track on Obamacare repeal, tax reform

January 10th, 2017 by Mike Pare in Local Regional News

The Chattanooga Free Press editorial page believe U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann deserves a fourth term in office.

Photo by Doug Strickland /Times Free Press.

Will there be a radical drop off of coverage immediately? Absolutely not. What we want is to go back and fundamentally reform and fix health care as it should have been addressed eight years ago.
U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann on Obamacare repeal

U.S. Rep. Chuck Fleischmann said Monday that Republicans plan to power ahead on the repeal and replacement of Obamacare and quickly move on tax reform.

Also, the Chattanooga Republican said he expects President-elect Donald Trump — on day one in office — to start undoing executive orders put into place by President Barack Obama.

"We don't know how many. We don't know specifically which ones, but a lot them particularly dealing with regulations," Fleischmann said in remarks to Times Free Press editors.

Between now and Jan. 20 when Trump becomes president, the 3rd Congressional District representative said, Republicans will begin work on legislation so the new administration can hit the ground running.

Fleischmann said Republicans plan to use a budget reconciliation tool to enable them to gain a simple majority in the U.S. Senate to repeal Obamacare and work on tax reform. He said an Obamacare replacement would have at least two features: permitting a person to stay on their parents' insurance until age 26 and coverage of pre-existing health conditions.

"You'll see a total repeal of a fundamentally flawed system which literally is caving in on itself," Fleischmann said, adding that big premium jumps some people are seeing are a symptom. "What we're hoping for is bipartisan cooperation to sit down and add to the health care debate and reform process."

Concerning replacement, he said there probably will be a one- or two-year roll out permitting work in key congressional committees "to come up with properly crafted solutions."

While Obamacare will be "here one day and gone tomorrow" legislatively, there will be a systematic addressing of all the health care issues, Fleischmann said.

"Will there be a radical drop-off of coverage immediately? Absolutely not," he said. "What we want is to go back and fundamentally reform and fix health care as it should have been addressed eight years ago."

On Sunday, Reince Priebus, Trump's incoming chief of staff, said repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act in one action would be "ideal," but it "may take time" to get all elements of the health care law's alternative ready.

A full repeal and replacing of Obamacare may not happen immediately but it will happen "as quickly as possible," Priebus said on the CBS program "Face the Nation."

However, Kelley Elliott, an organizer for ACA Advocates of Chattanooga, said the legislation shouldn't be repealed with no replacement.

"It's irresponsible to repeal without a replacement," said Elliott, whose group is working with Protect My Care Tennessee and plans to meet Wednesday with representatives of the state's two U.S. senators, Bob Corker and Lamar Alexander. "We have stories to share with the representatives and want to make sure our voices are heard about not repealing "

Sherrie Davis, a Chattanooga nurse, said she has seen "devastating effects" on individuals who have not had access to health care.

"It's because of the Affordable Care Act that millions now have access to often free, preventative care, and those with chronic conditions are protected from insurance companies denying them coverage just because they are sick," she said in a statement.

Concerning tax reform, Fleischmann said he'd like to see a simpler system so people don't have to rely on tax lawyers and accountants. In addition to lower taxes, he said, there needs to be "a more ascertainable way to figure taxes."

Also, the congressman said, cutting corporate tax rates is critical so American companies can keep their headquarters here.

"That will be a big step to keeping their jobs here," Fleischmann said, noting the corporate tax rate is at 35 percent. "What the number is, 20 or 25 percent, I don't know. We'll work on that."

If marginal tax rates are reduced, he said he wants to see where revenues will be made up. While he believes people will go out and create more wealth and cause more money to come into federal coffers, there's a "fiscal responsibility from a budget standpoint."

"What will the deficit look like?" Fleischmann asked.

Also, he said, he favors keeping the mortgage deduction for families on their main residence.

Fleischmann said that on the week of Jan. 23, Republican legislators plan to hold a retreat with Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence in Philadelphia in the Independence Hall area.

The purpose is to go over an agenda and strategy moving forward with a degree of coordination, he said.

Contact staff writer Mike Pare at mpare@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6318.