Back to School

Back to School 
For much of Texas, this week marks the beginning of the new school year. As children go back to school, summer routines and commutes change for all of us. Please watch for children crossing streets and buses stopping to pick up and drop off students. Remember to slow down as you drive through school zones. Dana and I wish students across Texas a safe and healthy start to the new school year. We also thank the teachers, administrators, and school police officers who are welcoming students and their parents back. Your work is so important, and we appreciate your dedication to our students.

Department of Justice’s Decision to Reduce Use of Private Prisons
I have already heard from many residents of the 19th District who are concerned by the Department of Justice’s (DOJ) decision to begin phasing out its use of private prisons. Private prisons have provided the needed capacity to house prisoners in the past several years. Before we embark on any major changes to the federal prison system, a comprehensive analysis should be conducted. I will continue to monitor this situation as it develops, and I have already requested additional clarification from the Bureau of Prisons (BOP).

A Better Way to Manage Health Care
It’s no secret the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, isn’t working for Americans. Not only have many of you not been able to keep the doctor you prefer, but the number of options for health insurance providers has been steadily decreasing. Already this year, UnitedHealth Group announced it would no longer offer individual insurance policies in 26 states next year, including Texas. Now, Aetna says it will drop out of 11 state exchanges and only keep its plans available in four states. When insurance companies pull out of the ACA marketplace, consumers lose choices.

As choices go down, and costs go up under the ACA, it is time for a new approach, or in the words of House Speaker Paul Ryan, it is time for a “Better Way.”

As part of a series of Republican proposals, working groups have identified the shortcomings of our health care system. Some of these problems existed before Obamacare, and the ACA created other problems on its own. The solution is not just repealing the ACA, something I have voted for time and again, although that is a necessary first step. The premise of the solution is simple. We need to ensure that every American has access to quality, affordable health care.

To lower the cost of insurance, increasing competition is vital. We increase competition by giving people more control and more choices. Americans need to be able to pick the health insurance plan that best meets their needs, not Washington’s mandates. When individuals have this control, insurance companies will be forced to compete for their business, not Washington’s approval.

Speaker Ryan’s proposal also calls for protecting Medicare and making the program viable for both our current and future seniors, rather than using Medicare to prop up the ACA. Another important aspect of this plan is encouraging the development of cures and treatments to more known diseases. Only about 500 of the 10,000 known diseases have cures at this time. The challenge of finding new cures calls for innovation and ingenuity, not bureaucracy. Clearing away red tape allows new ideas, life-saving devices, and therapies to be discovered.

A better health care system requires Congress to change how individuals, the government, and health insurance companies interact. It is time to replace the ACA with a system that gives power back to the people.

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