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Griffith aims for health care law repeal
Ninth District U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith speaks in a 2011 Bulletin photo.
Wednesday, July 4, 2012
By ASHLEY JACKSON - Bulletin Staff Writer
Ninth District U.S. Rep. Morgan Griffith has voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act in the past, and he plans to do so again, despite the fact that the Supreme Court upheld most of it.
Griffith, R-Salem, said during a visit to the area Tuesday that most of his constituents have told him they are concerned about the act, also called Obamacare, which he sees as a significant tax, especially on middle-income people.
However, he said some of his constituents like the provisions that allow children up to age 26 to stay on their parents’ health care plans and that say someone cannot be turned down for insurance due to a pre-existing condition, he added.
Griffith said he thinks insurance companies are comfortable with allowing young adults up to age 26 to stay on their parents’ plans because it doesn’t pose much risk for the insurers since people in that age group are less likely to become ill.
He also supports the provision that says that no insurance company can deny a policy to someone with a pre-existing condition. If Congress succeeds in repealing the act, he said he would like to see states require that provision as part of health care reform.
“It is my goal” to repeal the law, Griffith said.
Nearly two years ago, one of his first votes in Congress was to repeal President Barack Obama’s health care reform bill, and he plans to vote to repeal it again next week when Congress reconvenes, he said.
In the November election, voters will have their say on Obamacare, he said. People who support the reform will vote for pro-Obamacare candidates, and those who do not will vote for candidates who want a change, Griffith said.
Companies that do not comply with the health care reform act will be required to pay a tax. Griffith said he thinks companies — especially small ones — will find it more cost-effective to simply pay the tax than to deal with the paperwork and the cost of providing their employees with health insurance, he said.
Griffith predicted that by at least 2024, there will be no private insurance policies — or very few that only wealthy people can afford. That will force everyone into the government program, “and then you have socialized medicine ... and most of my constituents don’t like that,” the congressman said.
If the pool of people with private insurance policies decreases, he thinks insurance companies could raise rates. That, he said, will force larger businesses and companies to reject the plan and pay the tax.
Griffith hopes the Senate will help to repeal the health care act and work to pass a more acceptable plan, he said.
“It’s important to let the Senate have another chance to get it right,” he said, adding that it is up to Congress to get the plan straight because the Supreme Court did not, in his opinion.
Griffith voted recently to hold Attorney General Eric Holder in contempt of Congress for his role in what is called the Fast and Furious scandal. Holder became the first head of the Justice Department to be cited for contempt of Congress after he refused to share documents related to an ATF sting operation in Arizona, according to The Associated Press. The operation allegedly was tied to hundreds of deaths in Mexico and the killing of U.S. Border Patrol Agent Brian Terry in a desert shootout in 2010, the AP reported.
Griffith voted to hold Holder in contempt because first of all, “it is fairly clear that he misled Congress,” and also because the Terry family has the right to know what happened, he said.
He has voted to have an individual attorney investigate the case to see if the president’s use of executive privileges was warranted or allowed by law; to find out who was involved; and whether Obama had a role in a cover-up, he said.
Nothing may have been covered up and nothing wrong may have been done, but the documents still need to be looked at by an attorney to make sure, he added.
He feels that the scandal is “not political ... this is our job” and constitutional obligation to make sure that the executive branch is not involved in something it is not supposed to be in, Griffith said. “It’s the old principle of checks and balances,” he added.
Griffith agreed with the Supreme Court’s decision last week to uphold Arizona’s 2010 immigration law provision that requires state law enforcement officials to determine the immigration status of anyone they stop or arrest if they have reason to suspect the person might be in the country illegally.
The Supreme Court’s ruling “was a win,” Griffith said. He sees nothing wrong with a police officer asking a person’s immigration status after the person is stopped for some other concern, he added.
Griffith said he thinks people who are found to be in the United States illegally should be deported. Then, he supports allowing them to file to come back legally by getting a job, a place to live and a sponsor for good behavior for two years while the person works toward obtaining citizenship, he said.
The goal with his plan is to make the process of becoming a citizen easier because he understands that immigrants want to share the American dream, he said. Once immigrants have citizenship, they will be a part of the American economic system and pay taxes, he added.
For now, Griffith said his top priority remains jobs. He believes that the key to creating and attracting jobs is to limit new regulations and extend the period allowed for new businesses to meet government regulations. Currently, Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) regulations, for example, only allow a maximum of four years to achieve compliance, he added.
Griffith thinks over-regulation leads to companies deciding to locate in other countries, where there are fewer or no regulations on businesses, he said.
Fewer regulations in the U.S. could “encourage businesses to invest here,” which would mean more jobs being created, he added.
Turning to national politics, Griffith admitted that he does not know who Mitt Romney, the former Massachusetts governor and likely Republican presidential candidate, will pick for a running mate.
Griffith acknowledged that Florida Sen. Marco Rubio has gained popularity, and he also said he would like to see Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell get the bid.
“It would be great for Virginia if he (McDonnell) was chosen ... he is one of the finest men I’ve ever worked with,” Griffith said.
Also during his visit here, Griffith spoke with constituents at the Hardees in Stanleytown on Tuesday morning and met with New College Institute Executive Director William Wampler to discuss the college’s plans to modernize and update its facilities.