by WILL PERKINS firstname.lastname@example.org –
GLASGOW – U.S. Rep. Brett Guthrie made himself available to community members on Wednesday at the T.J. Health Pavilion Community Center.
What began as one-on-one discussion became a group question-and-answer session after a few community members requested such a format and Guthrie agreed to the change.
Guthrie then stood in front of over 50 community members and answered their questions on various topics such as health care.
“I represent every one of you,” Guthrie said to those in attendance, adding that they may not agree with him on everything, but that he was there to listen to their concerns.
On the topic of health care, Guthrie said current policies are unfavorable to some people who purchase health insurance on the individual market.
“If you get your health insurance through your employer, you don’t pay income taxes on your health insurance,” he said. “If you’re a farmer, an individual, and you buy on the individual market, then make your money, you pay your income taxes, then you take what’s left and buy your health insurance.
“That’s probably one of the most unfair things in the tax code.”
Guthrie told the Glasgow Daily Times after the event that the purpose of Wednesday’s visit was “to hear from constituents.”
“I think people were willing to speak their mind today,” Guthrie said, adding that is “what you look for” at this type of event.
Guthrie said while this was more of a “conservative crowd,” there were some people who came up to him individually and shared their “different opinion on the health care bill and moving forward.” He said he’s found that when he gets a chance to speak to them about the bill, he can discuss lesser-known aspects of it.
“A lot of people who oppose our bill – if you get it just from the news – just think our bill only repealed and put people off health care but didn’t have a plan to help people with health care,” he said. “And I think our bill did.”
When asked what he saw as the future of health care in the U.S., Guthrie said the Affordable Care Act is “collapsing.”
“We’re seeing the insurance markets collapse,” he said. “And it’s going to have to be addressed.”
Guthrie said he was part of a group that met with President Donald Trump who said, “One thing to do is to stand back and let (the ACA) collapse and say, ‘All right, see, we told you so.’”
“But that’s not leadership,” Guthrie said. “So we wanted to solve it before it happened. And that’s why we were trying to rush to get it done this summer.”
Guthrie said “you can’t deny” that the ACA gave some people coverage “that didn’t have it before.”
“That’s what we’re trying to figure out how to address,” he said. “But also, a lot of people who had insurance that liked it are now seeing premiums go up, copays go up, deductibles go up to try to deal with the regulations in the law that made insurance non-competitive.
“What we’re trying to do is make the market work.”
When asked what steps should be taken to help fight the opioid epidemic, Guthrie said their health care bill had $15 billion in funding to deal with mental health and addiction. He said “there is no one magic bullet” to help the fight against opioid addiction.
“For the most part, people who are addicted are criminals because they are addicted,” Guthrie said. “Not criminals that are addicted. Let’s treat them like addicts instead of criminals.
“We’re trying to change the mentality at the federal level that most of these people are addicts, not criminals.
“They’re criminals because they’re addicts, not the other way around.”