Obamacare Debate Continues Among Local Congressmen

Houston-area congressmen continue to spar over the national health care law, which remains a divisive issue heading in to the November races. KUHF Health and Science reporter Carrie Feibel has more from both sides of the political divide.

Two Republican congressmen met Wednesday behind closed doors with leaders of the Texas Medical Center, including doctors and nurses.

Representatives Kevin Brady of the Woodlands and Pete Olson of the Sugarland area say that the hospitals feel hampered by the uncertainty that still surrounds the Affordable Care Act, otherwise known as Obamacare.

Brady says he thinks the solution is to repeal and replace the law.

“There is a great deal of uncertainty surrounding healthcare in America. Building decisions are being put on hold, investment decisions are being put on hold. In effect one-sixth of the U.S. economy is essentially frozen at this time.”

The president and CEO of the Medical Center, Richard Wainerdi, was one of the people who met with the two Republicans.

He agrees the law is stuck in political limbo and that’s made it harder for local hospitals to make decisions.

“We have a bill passed by one party with no participation from the other party, we have the other party wanting to repeal and replace with no participation from the other one. There’s concern in the vast middle on what is going to be the future.”

But Wainerdi says it’s not just the law that’s contributing to uncertainty among local hospitals.

The recession and changes in insurance markets are also in the mix.

On the Democratic side, Congressman Gene Green says repealing Obamacare is a good slogan for Republicans but their specifics have been vague.

He says any so-called uncertainty in the healthcare marketplace is because of politics and not the law itself, which could cover millions of uninsured Texans.

“The only uncertainty is we have a Congress who refuses to accept what the Supreme Court said, we have a governor who is giving up almost a $100 billion in federal money to cover uninsured in Texas. That’s actually hurting our hospitals, not what the Affordable Care Act does.”

Green says he would be open to making improvements in the law, but not repealing it altogether.

Texas has the highest uninsured rate in the country. One out of four people have no health coverage.

From the KUFH Health and Science Desk, I’m Carrie Feibel.

 

Bio photo of Carrie Feibel

Carrie Feibel

Health & Science Reporter

Carrie Feibel is KUHF's health and science reporter. She comes to Houston Public Radio after ten years as a print reporter...