Public Affairs Roundtable features Cong. Marsha Blackburn as speaker
By Carole Robinson, Senior Staff Writer
Cong. Marsha Blackburn, in one of her final stops in the district before returning to Washington, D.C. to serve in the First Session of the 113th Congress, was the featured speaker this week before a gathering of business and community leaders.
Franklin resident and financial planning executive Dave Crouch moderated the monthly Public Affairs Round Table, a Williamson County Chamber event.
Topics included the Affordable Care Act, gas prices, the economy, unemployment and the national debt.
Insurance rates have increased across the board from 23 to 100 percent as the insurance industry restructures and repositions itself for change, according to Blackburn.
The 40-hour workweek is being undermined with businesses cutting hours back to under 30 hours or less. And, hospitals, doctors and other health care providers are dealing with a continual barrage of changing regulations, Blackburn said.
“Even substitute teachers, teacher technicians, maintenance workers are being moved to 29 and a half hours,” she told attendees Monday morning. “In hospitals there have already been cutbacks in anticipation of the reduction in reimbursement in both time and money.”
The Affordable Care Act is projected to begin implementation October 1 with open enrollment for both Medicaid expansion and exchange subsidies.
By Jan. 1, 2014 all Americans are required to prove they have health insurance or face a penalty, according to Blackburn.
Since more than 60 percent of the country oppose the Act, Blackburn said the Republican controlled House of
Representatives has a three-step plan to delay implementation and eventually defund, repeal and replace it.
“I’ve got a great bill. HR 2809 delays all taxes, penalties and fees and prevents the exchanges from getting out the door,” she said. “The second step is defunding the bill—HR 2862. Delay, defund, repeal and replace.”
“Replace it with what?” asked Brad Dunn, Chairman of the Chamber Board of Directors. “It’s all the unknowns that are causing businesses to hold back.”
Blackburn responded by suggesting offering across state line health insurance, which opens up the insurance market and provides portability and tort reform that provides consumer protectionand insurance accountability.
“The entire piece of legislation is only 263 pages,” she added.
On another matter, Crouch asked if there were plans to bring down the price of fuel.
Cummins Engine Company of Williamson County is leading the development of a natural gas engine, Blackburn explained.
However, “we need an all of the above strategy” which includes hydrocarbons, electric power, solar, wind, hydropower, modular nuclear power energy regulators being worked on at [the] Oak Ridge [National Laboratory], and other new developing technologies.”
“We also need to block out of control activists—like the EPA,” Blackburn added.
“The EPA is making it difficult to extract and refine. We haven’t built a refinery since 1978.”
The EPA wants to increase the amount of ethanol in gasoline from 10 percent to 15 percent, she said.
Her concern is that ethanol destroys fuel lines and causes vehicles to get fewer miles per gallon, which affects the stricter café standards car companies are required to meet.
“It’s not serving us well.”
Looking at a national debt approaching $17 trillion and the economic state of the nation “from 30,000 feet—is there any hope?” Crouch asked.
Blackburn responded that budget cuts need to be made and the Federal Reserve should be stopped from printing money.
“8.9 percent unemployment is unacceptable,” said Matt Largen, Chamber president and CEO.
Uncertainty is causing people to sit on their money, Blackburn said. This same group of people has refrained from investing in their businesses, and they aren’t hiring or they are only hiring part time workers.
The results are stagnating or rising unemployment and underemployment and it sends business out of the country, she concluded.
To learn more about Blackburn’s stand on current issues or to read the bills she referenced, visit www.blackburn.house.gov.
The next Public Affairs Round Table is tentatively set for Monday, Sept. 23. It is open to the community.
Posted on: 8/28/2013