U.S. Rep. Frank Guinta tonight supported including mental health coverage and an allowance for pre-existing conditions in any legislation that would replace the Affordable Care Act.
A day after supporting a bill that would repeal the ACA and require House committees to come up with a replacement plan within 180 days, the Republican held a telephone town hall with constituents, organized by his congressional office, to take their suggestions on what they would like to see in the new bill.
Guinta agreed with a participant who asked that any replacement legislation mandate insurance coverage for treatment of mental illness. He said that he has a family member with a mental illness and he has been the “direct caregiver.”
“It’s incredibly important that we try to eliminate the stigma associated with mental illness,” Guinta said.
He also said he expects that any replacement bill would “include an allowance for pre-existing conditions so that if you change carriers you wouldn’t be automatically denied. There is a lot of bipartisan support in the House to include that provision in any future piece of legislation.”
Guinta agreed with another participant that any replacement bill should continue the ACA provision that allows children up to 26 years of age to stay on their parents’ health insurance plans.
He said that overall there should be greater choice of health insurance plans and lower costs, adding that under the ACA, “The average family premium increase is now an extra $2,100 a year.”
Guinta supported suggestions by participants that Congress pass tort reform and portability, allowing the purchasing of insurance plans across state lines.
“I’d like to bet as much input on what you’d like to see for the replacement for the Affordable Care Act,” Guinta said at the start of the hour-long call. It was Guinta’s second telephone town hall since taking office, and he also held a traditional town hall in Hampton on Jan. 24.
Guinta also said the House has passed 12 bills since the congressional session began, including approval of the Keystone Pipeline, streamlining the process for approval of natural gas pipelines, a bill addressing human trafficking and a suicide prevention program for veterans.
Guinta also addressed the rising threat of terrorism. ISIL, he said, “needs to be eliminated. They are a direct threat to American security abroad and homeland security. They are trying to infiltrate the United States. Individual lone events could happen anywhere in the country. It is of grave concern for me and for the entire country.”
“We are trying to support the President, but we’ve got to act boldly,” Guinta said. “I believe ISIL can be defeated, but I believe we must be vigilant and must focus on everything we have to do to keep people safe.”
Guinta’s vote in favor of the repeal-replace bill drew criticism from the New Hampshire Democratic Party.
“Repealing the Affordable Care Act would not only take away the health and economic security that comes from quality health coverage, but it would also increase the deficit and reverse our progress to slow the growth of health care costs,” said NHDP spokeman Aaron Jacobs, who called the vote “shameful.”