Idaho Congressman Walt Minnick said he thinks changes to the health care reform law approved earlier this year won’t see changes this year, and will be a topic of debate for years to come.
“I suspect that Congress is going to be dealing with health care reform for the next 10 years,” Minnick said Wednesday during a call-in show on KBOI in Boise.
All of Idaho’s congressional delegation, including Minnick, voted against the health care law passed by Congress in March. The state of Idaho is suing part of the law that mandates citizens to buy health insurance.
Minnick said that he thinks Congress will tackle health care next year, after the Nov. 2 election. His strategy is to fix the legislation, removing problematic parts of the plan and taking care of things that weren’t in the plan, like tighter controls on the cost of health care.
“We are looking at things where Republicans and Democrats agree make no sense,” Minnick said. “There’s very little cost control in the bill.” Minnick also said he thinks the current law would likely add to the national debt, because Congress could hold off on funding reductions to Medicare scheduled to pay for expanded health insurance.
Minnick is working on several pieces of health care legislation, but hasn’t signed a discharge petition for a plan to repeal the health care law. “This is mostly political show,” Minnick said about the petition. “The Congress is not going to repeal it. It’s an issue for the next Congress.”
Rep. Mike Simpson signed the petition to repeal the health care law, introduced by Rep. Steve King, R-Iowa. Currently, the petition has 170 signatures from House members and needs 218 before the health care repeal could move forward.
Both Minnick and Simpson also voted to repeal the individual mandate to buy health insurance, an effort that ultimately failed.
During the radio show, Minnick condemned the current state of Congress, saying that the body has left too many unsolved problems, including illegal immigration, the rising cost of college, and lowering quality of U.S. highways.
“The federal government ought to get on with the job of securing the borders,” he said.
Minnick also said one of the issues looming before Congress before the end of the year is whether to extend the Bush tax cuts. Those tax cuts, originally passed in 2001 and 2003 and benefit mostly higher income earners, are set to expire at the end of December. Minnick said the likely options on the table are to extend all of the tax cuts or pick and choose which ones to keep.
“Nobody wants all of these tax cuts to expire on New Year’s Eve,” he said. He favors keeping the tax cuts in place as long as the economy continues to sputter.
Minnick’s challenger in the Nov. 2 election, Republican state Rep. Raul Labrador of Eagle, will appear on KBOI Thursday afternoon.