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Rep. Robert Hurt: Obamacare fixes needed even before repeal

Wednesday, Apr. 16 | By Jonathan Hunley
Rep. Robert Hurt speaks with John Schied of Green Pastures and Jessie Swan of Quailwood Farm following an agricultural roundtable discussion in Fauquier County on Monday. Photo courtesy of Rep. Robert Hurt's office
WASHINGTON – The federal Affordable Care Act eventually will fail on its own, but that's no reason Americans should suffer in the meantime, Rep. Robert Hurt said last week.

The Republican, whose 5th District includes most of Fauquier County, said that some opponents of the law probably believe that lawmakers should stand by and just let it harm individuals and families.

That way, everyone would learn that it's bad policy, Hurt said.

But, while that tactic might succeed, the congressman said, employing it would hurt his constituents.

"And I'm not going to do that," he said in an interview outside of a U.S. House office building.

So while Republicans plan to repeal the landmark law under a future president, Hurt said, they also have to make parts of it as palatable as possible now.

"Look, we can't wait. I mean, these families can't wait until 2017," he said, referring to the year when a new chief executive will take office. "We need to try to do everything we can to help, help them now. And I'm committed to that."

The problem was that lawmakers were arrogant in thinking that they could solve such a complex problem with one big bill, the congressman said, and they didn't properly weigh costs and benefits.

"I think it will ultimately fail of its own weight," he said of the reform. "I don't think that it's structurally sound."

And there's "no way" that the measure known as "Obamacare" will save money, Hurt said. In fact, the price of health care is instead rising.

"Although well-intended, my problem with the Affordable Care Act is that it does nothing to address underlying costs, and they're just continuing to spiral out of control," he said.

A better fix would be to seek free market solutions that reduce costs while preserving or increasing the quality of health care, Hurt said.

The congressman said that as he and his staff travel around the 5th District, residents tell them that their insurance premiums and deductibles are rising and that they're losing choices in terms of what doctors they can see.

Obamacare is "harming employees, working Virginians, as well as small businesses and farmers," he said.

But if Republicans took control of the U.S. Senate this year, they perhaps could make changes to the legislation.

However, Hurt said: "Let's face it: With that possibility also comes the tremendous responsibility of leading, and that's always a challenge, and one that I think that we as Republicans would have to be prepared for."

Of course, Hurt looks to have a challenge of his own over the next few months.

Fifth District Democrats are scheduled to choose a nominee May 24 to face the incumbent.

Charlottesville-area teacher Ben Hudson and actor and activist Lawrence Gaughan are said to be seeking the nomination.

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