The Webster Wire

Listening to Floridians

Dear Friends:

Last week, I returned to Washington, DC for committee hearings and floor votes.  First priority for Congress was to pass a resolution that funded important services for our veterans, seniors, military and homeland security among others.  On Friday we passed an one-week spending bill.  This week we are considering a bill that will provide funding for the rest of the 2017 Fiscal Year, which lasts for 5 more months.

                               

Additionally, Reps. McArthur and Meadows filed an amendment to the American Health Care Act, the legislation that will repeal and replace Obamacare with real healthcare reform. Their amendment enables states to develop insurance frameworks that best fit their unique populations and provide superior care and lower costs for individuals. To obtain a waiver, states must demonstrate that the purpose is to reduce healthcare costs or increase coverage for individuals. Under the waivers, States are required to establish a program for high-risk patients or premium stabilization, or they must participate in the federal risk-sharing program.

The amendment maintains protections for pre-existing conditions. It specifically says that it insurers are not allowed to limit coverage for those with pre-existing conditions. It also prohibits state from obtaining a waiver for pre-existing protection, for gender discrimination, for guaranteed issue and renewability or for the right of dependents to stay on a family plan up to age 26.  Additionally, insurers are still prohibited from refusing to renew patient coverage because of your health status or charging you more because you become ill. Additional information is available here.

It is also important to note that Members of Congress will be subject to all of these changes – they are not exempted.  This is specifically stated in a bill introduced by Rep Martha McSally, myself and several other of our colleagues. 

My concern that Florida will be penalized under the bill because of demand for Medicaid-funded nursing home beds has not been fixed.  This is critical to the access some of our senior population has to Florida nursing homes.  Florida is a very efficient state when it comes to providing Medicaid services, however we are among the fastest growing states in the nation. Many seniors depend on Medicaid-funded nursing home beds when their Medicare coverage runs out.  

Our high senior population is likely going to explode as more baby boomers reach senior age.  The formula expressed in the proposal calculates a per capita cost multiplied by the number of eligible Medicaid recipients for the previous year.  The normal increase in cost of services coupled with being one of the fastest growing states in the country, puts Florida particularly at risk for exceeding the costs established under the bill.  If a state's costs exceeds the funds provided, the monies are taken out of the next year.  I am concerned that this creates a vicious cycle of costs that – given our growth rate – Florida would likely never overcome. I continue to work with leadership and am still hopeful for a solution before bill comes up for a vote.

                               

On Friday, President Trump signed another executive order on An America-first Offshore Energy Strategy calling for a review of drilling on the outer continental shelf.  The order specifically mentions reviewing the Artic Drilling Rule. The order does not include Florida’s beautiful gulf shores as a review site. Florida’s gulf coast is a world-renowned tourist attraction and base for military training and weapon testing. I am opposed to offshore drilling off Florida’s Gulf Coast. Last month, I and several of my Florida colleagues wrote to the administration expressing our strong opposition and I will continue to oppose efforts to drill in this area.

Your servant,

 

Daniel Webster
Member of Congress

Constituent Corner

A constituent from Mascotte visited the office regarding the issues he was experiencing re-enrolling in Medicare Part B.  He had submitted the paperwork but was being told that he had missed the open enrollment period and it would be not be effective until July 2017 instead of December 2016.  My office went back and forth with Social Security Administration until they were able to locate the paperwork that the constituent had sent to the Processing Center and were able to reinstate his Part B benefits and issue a new Medicare card to him.  The constituent confirmed that everything had been resolved and appreciated the assistance my office provided to him.

Legislative Update

This week, President Trump signed an executive order to create an “Office of Accountability and Whistleblower Protection at the Department of Veterans Affairs.  This order strengthens the power of VA leadership to hold staff accountable for misconduct. The president also urged the Senate to pass the VA Accountability First Act of 2017.  The House passed this bill last month to create a culture of accountability at the VA by giving the Secretary increased flexibility to remove, demote, or suspend any VA employee, including Senior Executive Service employees, for performance or misconduct. 

Survey

The House of Representatives has begun working on a budget proposal that would set the overall government spending level for the 2018 Fiscal Year. How important is it to you that we balance the budget and reduce spending? 

submit your response

Results of last week’s survey which asked... "Providing for Common Defense Is most important – 46.2%", "Fiscal Responsibility should be our highest priority – 45.5%," "I don’t know – 4%."