Brooks doesn't expect repeal of Obamacare in '18: Infrastructure, opioid crisis top priorities
ANDERSON — Rep. Susan Brooks doesn’t expect an effort by Republicans in Congress to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act in 2018, but anticipates some legislation will be considered.
During an interview with The Herald Bulletin last Monday, Brooks said that people don’t realize that the tax cut legislation signed by President Donald Trump included a repeal of the individual mandate in the Affordable Care Act.
“Now people won’t be fined by the government if they choose not to buy health care insurance,” she said. “There may be some individual bills that might move, but I think we saw in 2018 it would be too difficult to get a repeal and replacement for the Affordable Care Act.”
Brooks, R-5th District, said it is possible that legislation could include allowing the purchase of health insurance across state lines and allowing people to buy into some health care plans.
“I’ve been pushing the repeal of the medical device tax, which is really important in Indiana,” she said.
Brooks said Congress this year will focus on infrastructure improvements across the country through more public-private partnerships and to deal with the nation’s “broken” immigration system and border security.
“The next big priority is to keep government open and funded,” Brooks said.
“We may pass a continuing resolution for a short period of time,” she said of the current proposal to fund the government through Feb. 16. “We need to get agreement with both sides of the aisle on what are the top numbers for funding the government and then put a budget together.”
Brooks said another priority is the opioid crisis and providing additional funding for more treatment centers.
“There is not enough funding," she said. "We haven’t turned the corner yet. We are still having far too many Americans dying from overdose. There is a lot more to be done.”
Brooks said a part of the 21st Century Cures legislation is additional funding for states to open more treatment facilities.
“Part of our challenge is making sure we have people who can work in those treatment centers and are qualified,” she said. “We need to do a better job with prescribers to make sure they have a better understanding of addiction and how to keep people from getting people addicted in the first place. How do we get people off the opioids and onto a different treatment path?”
Brooks agreed the passage of the tax cuts legislation was the first big legislative success for the Trump administration.
She noted an increase in child tax credits, the new tax credit for the care of family members, the doubling of the standard deduction for married couples and a reduction in the tax rate for businesses.
“There are hundreds of companies giving bonuses, raising the minimum wage and investing,” she said, “which is what we wanted to happen.
“Hoosiers and Americans will hopefully be seeing changes in their paychecks starting in February,” Brooks said. “Ninety percent of Americans should see a reduction in taxes, and the IRS is supposed to have these changes in place by Feb. 18.”
She said the last significant tax reform legislation was in 1986.
“It was really important to get it done and for U.S. companies to stay competitive in the world,” Brooks said. “Lower tax rates for large corporations so we don’t see those jobs and corporate headquarters moving overseas.”