Tipton: GOP wants Obamacare reform
Republicans in Congress are not out for a full repeal of Obamacare, but rather reasonable reforms that will accomplish its original purpose and intent, Colorado’s 3rd District congressman, Scott Tipton, said Monday during a visit to Glenwood Springs.
“The problem we all agree on is the need for affordability and accessibility,” Tipton said before a gathering of local business leaders during a morning meeting sponsored by the Glenwood Springs Chamber Resort Association.
“Especially out here in these rural areas, we’re paying a premium and we’re required to buy a product that costs us more” than in urban centers, said Tipton, who is a Cortez Republican.
As it stands, the Affordable Care Act, President Barack Obama’s signature health-care law, is less about access to basic health care and more about providing catastrophic insurance coverage, he said.
The costs of providing that coverage are even greater than first estimated, Tipton added, pointing to a new Congressional Budget Office estimate that ACA will cost close to $2 trillion over the next decade.
“To the president’s credit, he has signed some of the bills we have put through to try to reform the law,” said Tipton, who reiterated his comments during an afternoon meeting with Garfield County commissioners and local constituents.
But more reforms are needed, he said, including providing incentives for consumers to maintain health savings accounts without being penalized come tax time, and through tort reform aimed at limiting legal claims against medical providers.
“I hope we can move forward and get to something that works for the American people, and the employers who are trying to do the right thing for their people,” he said.
Tipton also touched on economic recovery, saying many rural counties in the 3rd Congressional District are still experiencing double-digit unemployment and low labor participation rates, which don’t show up in the unemployment figures.
“Seven out of 10 jobs in this country are the result of small businesses, and we need to support them,” he said.
Asked by one of the chamber meeting attendees if he would support an increase in the national gasoline tax amid lower gas prices to help pay for highway and related infrastructure needs, Tipton said no.
Given the volatile nature of the global oil markets, gasoline prices can fluctuate greatly, Tipton noted. And, a higher gas tax means rural residents pay more because they have to drive longer distances, he said.
Tipton said he would like to explore changes to the environmental review process for larger infrastructure projects, that can tend to increase costs beyond actual construction.
“That just takes more dollars away from being able to put asphalt on the road,” he said.
Colorado Mountain College representatives asked the congressman for his take on Obama’s proposal to offer two years of college education free of charge to high school graduates who want to pursue higher education.
“There is no free college. Somebody will pay for it,” Tipton said, calling CMC “a great example of affordability.”
During the meeting with county commissioners, Tipton spoke to ongoing efforts to ensure that federal Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILT) on federal lands continue to come to local governments, and well reintroduction of his “all of the above” Planning for America’s Energy Future bill.
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Update at 9:45 p.m.: I-70 is open westbound at MM 114, West Glenwood. Eastbound remains closed at MM 105, New Castle, for an estimated 5-7 hours.