Congressman Moolenaar talks failed ACA repeal effort, future of health care reform

By Elisabeth Waldon • Last Updated 11:12 am on Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Congressman John Moolenaar meets with media before Thursday’s listening session at Central Michigan University. — Daily News/Elisabeth Waldon

MOUNT PLEASANT — Congressman John Moolenaar knew Thursday evening’s listening session was going to be a bumpy ride.

As about 900 people were being seated in Warriner Hall’s Plachta Auditorium at Central Michigan University, Moolenaar steadied himself for the event in a dressing room in the basement of the nearly century-old theater.

“This was a very competitive election, a very contested election at the national level and people are still working through the process of who their new president is,” he acknowledged. “I want to make sure as the representative for the 4th District that I’m available to hear concerns, to work and advocate for our district as we face challenges in our country. This (listening session) is one way to be available to constituents.”

The Daily News asked the Congressman about a recent attempt by Congress to change the Affordable Care Act — the proposal didn’t even reach the floor for a vote — and where Congress needs to go from here for successful health care reform.

“I was in support of that legislation and I believe it would have been a good policy for Michigan,” said Moolenaar of the failed effort. “It achieved the objectives that I had in terms of a patient-centered approach. Where some people had concerns was on the Medicaid expansion. In this regard, it was actually a very positive policy for Michigan because it maintained the Medicaid expansion so that people who were currently on Medicaid expansion would not be kicked off. To me, that was a benefit for Michigan. Some states didn’t expand Medicaid and had reservations about that aspect. I think there were concerns raised by a variety of segments and that’s why there wasn’t a vote, because the votes weren’t there.

“Now, as a result of people understanding better the policy — it was moving fairly quickly and some people hadn’t had a chance to digest it as much as they’d like — I think it’s going to gain support and I think we’re going to move forward,” he said. “There have even a number of ways of ensuring that we keep kids on their parents’ health insurance to age 26, that we support people with pre-existing conditions — some of the key components that I believe will make a successful health care system now are in place and I believe the policy will move forward.”

The Daily News also asked the Moolenaar about House Resolution 899, a proposal to eliminate the U.S. Department of Education by Dec. 31, 2018. The bill was sponsored by Rep. Thomas Massie from Kentucky and is supported by Moolenaar’s neighboring congressman from the 3rd District, Rep. Justin Amash.

“I think states and local entities have the primary responsibility for our education and I believe in states and local school boards having the leadership role,” Moolenaar said. “I’m not in favor of abolishing the Department. I believe we have an important role to support kids with special needs and ensure that we have a strong educational system. I am in favor of more responsibilities going to the states and having that local control remain strong.”

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