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Archive | Vern Ehlers

Defunding of ACORN

VEhlersheadshotFrom Rep. Vernon Ehlers 3rd District

Last week, I co-sponsored a bill, which the House passed, to stop sending federal funds to the organization “Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now” (ACORN). The group is accused of, and has been captured on audio and videotapes engaging in several unethical and illegal activities.

I became concerned about the organization’s activities after allegations and media reports of voter fraud against ACORN during the 2008 Presidential Election. I joined my colleagues in the House of Representatives in urging the Department of Justice to investigate this issue, and for the House to hold hearings to find out more.

You may be aware that more recently, additional evidence of fraud and unethical dealings involving ACORN has surfaced. I knew it was time to act to remove the federal government from dealing financially with this questionable organization, so I cosponsored and voted for H.R. 3571, a bill defunding ACORN of all its federal funding. The bill passed in the U.S. House last week. The U.S. Senate has also voted to defund the group of federal housing and transportation money.

Voter registration organizations are very important to promoting participation in the democratic process, and I support efforts to do so ethically and legally. I also know that efforts to improve access to housing are critical, and I know of several ethical and effective organizations that operate with this mission in West Michigan. ACORN has made it clear that they have little regard for either of these standards, which their peer organizations make great efforts to follow.

You can be sure that I will continue to advocate for responsible use of taxpayer funds through all my work in Washington.
Best Wishes,
Vernon J. Ehlers
Member of Congress

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Ehlers on health care

By U.S. Rep. Vernon Ehlers, 3rd District

V-Ehlers-headshotThis year, a large number of people in West Michigan contacted me with their thoughts on making changes to our nation’s health care.  I heard from some people in West Michigan who do not have access to affordable health care since they lost access to affordable health insurance when they lost their jobs or they have pre-existing conditions that make the cost of insurance prohibitive.

There is no question that access to health care and affordable health insurance must be improved.  Affordable health care should be available to everyone, and people should have access to the type of health insurance, health care and doctors they want.

However, I also heard from others who are very concerned about the proposals put forth by the Democrats.  The Democrats’ proposal is not the cure; it does not make the improvements our health care system needs.   For example, the current proposal (H.R. 3200) may do nothing to control the growth of health care costs, and would lead to monumental deficit spending. For these reasons, I oppose the Democrats’ bill as it currently stands.

The plan President Obama outlined sounds quite similar to the Democrats’ legislation. However, I was pleased to hear him mention the need to halt deficit spending and contain medical liability costs. Unfortunately, he offered few details about how he proposes to do this.

I sincerely hope that President Obama is willing to listen to the people in West Michigan and the rest of our nation, and work with me and my colleagues, in developing legislation that will improve our health care. In fact, I have been working with my colleagues to develop legislation that will protect the relationship between doctors and patients, lower the cost of care, expand options for people to obtain health insurance, give incentives to medical students entering primary care fields, and improve the quality of our health care.

I agree with President Obama that expanding access to health care insurance is urgent and critical to millions of people in America. I look forward to working with him and leaders from both parties in the House on bi-partisan legislation that expands access to health care and health insurance for all Americans.
Vernon J. Ehlers
Member of Congress

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Congressman Ehlers on health care legislation

V-Ehlers-headshotWASHINGTON—The House Committee on Education and Labor, of which Congressman Vernon J. Ehlers is a member, began consideration of the America’s Affordable Health Choice Act (H.R. 3200) in July. Congressman Ehlers gave this opening statement on the bill: “We are here today to consider legislation that will have a significant impact on my constituents, as well as most other Americans.

“In Michigan, about 11 percent, or just over one million people, lack health insurance coverage. I strongly believe that Michiganders and all Americans should have access to good health care. I support making improvements to health care so that more people may have more of the health care that they need, while maintaining control over their own health care. Having suffered from chronic asthma during my childhood, I fully understand that all people need access to excellent doctors, nurses and hospitals.

“We should focus on prevention of illness, finding cures, and ensuring that Americans have accurate information about their health while receiving the best health care in the world.  In addition, I support combating fraud, waste and abuse in health care so that taxpayer funds are wisely invested in providing health care that people need.

“I also believe that the state and federal governments have a role in providing health care access and payment, especially for vulnerable populations such as the frail elderly, people with disabilities and those with lower incomes. In fact, I have supported many proposals over the years to expand health care coverage. For example, I voted in support of providing low-income children with health care under the State Children’s Health Insurance Program (SCHIP) and I supported providing access to prescription drugs for people enrolled in Medicare.

“But, even though the government has a responsibility to ensure its citizens have access to health care, it does not mean the government has to provide it.

“We must take care in defining the role of the government, especially given the role the private sector currently plays. In Michigan, two out of three nonelderly people with health insurance receive it through their employer.  Controversial “pay or play” schemes will disrupt employer-sponsored coverage or cause benefit packages to change. In addition, many people and businesses rely upon the informed advice of health insurance agents, often their friends, in selecting health plans. Under the “exchange system,” Americans will no longer have access to the valuable advice of their trusted advisors. Moreover, a government-run, public plan likely will create an unlevel playing field, pricing private health insurers out of business. This is an issue which particularly concerns me.

“When America and the states decided that every auto owner needed to have auto insurance, they did not set up state-run or federal-run auto insurance companies. Rather, they made use of the existing structure. Similarly, if we now would like to advocate that everyone have health insurance, why should we assume that the federal government must provide it all? We have a complete industry that deals with health insurance, we have private agents who are well-known in their communities. They are well-versed in the issues, and they know how to best help the public. We should make use of them, and not invest in a public plan in which the government controls it all.

“Also, we must ensure that health legislation boosts our economy, not harms it further. In Michigan, we have been struggling economically for too many years. The unemployment rate in my state is 15.2 percent, and the total number of unemployed reached an unfortunate historic high of 740,000 in June. I am concerned that new mandates and taxes will cost my state and our nation jobs at a time when we can least afford to lose them.

“In addition, we must foster a workforce equipped with the knowledge and skills needed to innovate and transform medicine.  I am a strong supporter of improving our students’ math and science education, and this is crucial to having an excellent medical workforce. Related to this, I plan to offer an amendment to provide loan assistance to students entering the medical profession.

“Finally, we must safeguard our children’s future by not only providing them access to excellent health care, but also by providing a fiscally responsible system.  We need to address the structural and financial problems associated with the current government programs before enacting a new, massive entitlement program. To that end, I am a cosponsor of the Securing America’s Future Economy Commission Act, and I am hopeful that provisions from this legislation will be included in any final health care reform legislation.

“I look forward to carefully evaluating the legislation before us, and it is my hope that we will enact bipartisan legislation that truly helps Americans access health care without bankrupting either our citizens or our nation.”

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