Ask Jerry

Thank you to everyone who submitted questions in the "Ask Jerry" feature of my newsletter - Kansas Common Sense

Below you will find my responses to just a few of the many great questions I received. In the coming weeks you can visit this section of the website to find more questions and responses.

For the opportunity to contribute your questions, please sign up for my newsletter and you will periodically see requests for questions.

Thanks,

Jerry

____________________________________

Can you work on health care without mandating that everyone get the insurance and try to get the costs and the courts awards back to a reasonable amount?

Linda from McPherson asks “I believe that we need health care, but we need to first work on the costs of medicine, operations, hospitals and doctors. When an insurance company can tell the doctor this is how much you will get, why can't that be the beginning point. I also believe you have got to stop the courts in the trial giving ridiculous amounts of money to people. The attorneys get an unfair amount and they never suffered. Again there has to be a point or reasonableness, we have to stop being such gluttons for money and work together. My question is, can you work on health care without mandating that everyone get the insurance and try to get the costs and the courts awards back to a reasonable amount?”

Dear Linda, I agree that, in order to achieve true health care reform in this country, the kind of reform that will relieve Kansas families and business owners from facing health insurance premium increases every year, we have to reduce health care costs.  Americans want sensible reforms that increase competition and choice, and thereby expand access to quality health care and lower costs.  I am concerned because data shows that President Obama’s health care reform law will raise health costs and insurance premiums.  Also, I am opposed to the health law’s individual mandate, which forces all Americans to purchase federally mandated health insurance.  I believe this mandate goes far beyond the powers granted to Congress by our Constitution.  Forcing individuals to carry a certain level of health insurance as defined by the federal government is an unprecedented form of federal action.  Never before has the government required individuals to buy a good or service as a condition of simply living in the United States. 

One common-sense way we can lower costs in our health care system is by reforming our medical liability system to reduce the frivolous lawsuits that lead to inflated insurance premiums and the practice of “defensive medicine” where doctors order every possible test for fear of being sued.  Defensive medicine costs us between $70-124 billion per year, which equates to over 10% of all our health care expenditures.  This is one of several ways we can lower health care costs and expand access to quality care for individuals and families.  Other ways include increasing competition between insurance companies by allowing Americans to shop for coverage from coast to coast, giving states flexibility to address the health care needs of their unique populations, and enabling small businesses to pool together when purchasing insurance plans for their employees. 

Return to Top
Since the first of the year no insurance company will insure children alone in Kansas. Is anything being done about this and will they stop selling health insurance entirely when required to insure adults with preexisting conditions?

Dennis from Barnes asks “Since the first of the year no insurance company will insure children alone in Kansas. Is anything being done about this and will they stop selling health insurance entirely when required to insure adults with preexisting conditions?”

Dear Dennis, I appreciate your question regarding recent changes to insurance plans, specifically those affecting children. Throughout the debate over the health law, President Obama promised "if you like your plan, you can keep your plan." Unfortunately, many Americans are realizing that this is not the case. The health law and regulations implementing it have caused insurance plans in 35 states to stop offering health insurance for children, and in 19 states, including Kansas, parents are no longer able to purchase any child only plans. This increased government regulation has limited the health coverage options available to families. In the Senate, I will continue to advocate for commonsense reforms that increase health insurance competition and choice, thereby expanding health care access and lowering costs rather than growing government and expanding bureaucracy. Also, we need to increase affordable, quality health care options for individuals with pre-existing conditions by implementing market-based, state-driven solutions instead of federal mandates that restrict economic growth and job creation and increase health insurance premiums.

Return to Top
Is there anything that can be done to stop the intrusion the EPA has become?

Gwen from Fort Scott asks “Over the years the EPA has gained more and more power. Now everywhere you turn they have implemented new regulations on business and even our individual lives. Is there anything that can be done to stop the intrusion the agency has become?” 

Dear Gwen, although I believe it is important that we act as responsible stewards of our environment so that future generations can enjoy our natural resources, I agree that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has involved itself in too many issues that are beyond its jurisdiction.

In the Senate, I cosponsored the Defending America's Affordable Energy and Jobs Act (S. 228) to stop Washington bureaucrats, including the EPA, from regulating greenhouse gases for the purpose of addressing climate change. The bill would restore the role of the U.S. Congress in the development and implementation of the nation's climate and energy policy.

If we want to create jobs and grow our economy, we must stop unelected bureaucrats from raising energy costs and using regulatory red tape to raise taxes and increase government intrusion into the lives of Americans. If you would like to hear more of my thoughts on this topic you can click here watch my remarks supporting an amendment that would stop harmful EPA regulations.

Return to Top
Do you support a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution?

James from Overand Park asks "Do you support a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution?"

Return to Top
How do we get President Obama to let us drill for oil and natural gas?

Stephen from Meade and Norma from Salina ask "What do we need to do to get President Obama to let us drill for oil and natural gas here in the U.S.?  It would certainly decrease our dependence on foreign oil."

Return to Top

March 14, 2011

Are you for raising the federal debt limit?

Lowell of Johnson County asks "Are you for raising the federal debt limit? I am opposed to this raising of the debt limit without $100 billion in tax cuts for the rest of the 2011 fiscal year plus a reduction in the 2012 spending to the total spent for the fiscal year 2008. Enough is enough. If you and the rest of Congress do not have the spine to do this, our country is doomed to failure."

Lowell, I'm glad we agree on this issue. I'm opposed to increasing the debt limit without significant reform to the way Washington does business. Congress must be held accountable, especially when it comes to deficit spending, which has a great impact on our economy and the future of our country. Every member of Congress has a moral obligation to address our growing deficits that our children and grandchildren will have to repay. If Congress votes to raise the debt limit, it must come with a long-term plan that makes the hard choices to reduce the growing deficits. 

Return to Top
Why can't those we elected to represent us have the "common sense" and courage to "bite the bullet" on cutting spending?

Connie of McPherson County asks "As an older citizen of the USA I know that we are going to have to 'bite the bullet' with cutting spending. It has to be done. Why can't those we elected to represent us have the 'common sense' and COURAGE to do it?"

Connie, I share your frustration that those in Washington often lack the courage to stand up for common sense solutions. The fact is our nation is broke, yet each year we add trillions more to the national debt that our children and grandchildren will have to repay.

One simple, commonsense solution is a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. This would require Congress to pass a balanced budget each year and would require a two-thirds majority to raise taxes. Kansans understand they must operate within a budget and they expect their government to do the same. I supported a balanced budget amendment as a member of the House of Representatives and will continue to fight for a balanced budget in the Senate.

Return to Top

February 21, 2011

Did you vote with the Senate to pass the new changes on the Social Security Bill that gives the right to illegal aliens to have access to Social Security?

Carolyn of Johnson County asks "Did you vote with the Senate to pass the new changes on the Social Security Bill that gives the right to illegal aliens to have access to Social Security? What are you going to do to stop this bill? On the one hand, politicians are saying there's not enough money in social security to continue funding for our elderly. And now the politicians want to allow more people who are NOT, I repeat, who are NOT citizens of the United States. What are you doing to stop the madness?"

Dear Carolyn - Social Security benefits must be reserved for only those who have legally earned them. During the two months I have been a member of the U.S. Senate there has not yet been a vote that would change who is able to access Social Security.

I agree that Social Security benefits should be reserved only for those who pay into the system. Seniors who have spent their lives working and contributing to the fund should not be left wondering if their payments will be distributed to people who did not contribute. While current law prohibits the payment of Social Security benefits to illegal immigrants, I support legislation that would put in place additional protections to make sure these benefits are not distributed to someone who has not earned that right.

Return to Top
Will there be relief from the overwhelming regulations on community banks?

Douglas from Sumner County asks: “I am president of a community bank in Belle Plaine. We are being overwhelmed by regulations being spewed out of congress and the regulatory agencies. We have 33 employees and we are to the point of being inundated with new, complex, contradictory, costly, incomprehensible, nonsensical, and counterproductive regulations. One of the most onerous areas is real estate. Wave after wave of changes are being imposed. We spend hours just trying to figure out which regulations apply to which loans. 40% to 50% percent of our time is spent on compliance when it would be more productively spent on making loans. Can we get some relief?”

The problem you describe is unfortunately one I have heard from bankers across Kansas. I had the opportunity last week during an oversight hearing in the Senate Banking Committee to question FDIC Chairwoman Sheila Bair about this issue.  You can watch the video below or click here.  I will be following up with Chairwoman Bair and other regulators whose agencies are responsible for the burden on our small town banks.

Return to Top
Obama appointed the 36 czars without consent of the senate didn't he? Isn't this an issue that the Senate can and should address?

Holly of Riley County asks "Hi Senator Jerry: On Thursdays through March, my husband and I are conducting a Constitution Fellowship Class, facilitating and learning about the story of our constitution and the document itself. I used some of your senate updates in class when we talked about the powers granted congress. This week we are studying the Executive Branch. One question that has come up is about the czars Obama has appointed. According to Article 2, section 2 #2, the President is to" appoint ambassadors and other public ministers with the consent of the senate". Obama appointed the 36 czars without consent of the senate didn't he? Isn't this an issue that the Senate can and should address? Some of these people's backgrounds are very scary to read about and don't seem to be qualified to uphold our constitution.

Thank you for considering my question.

Holly, I am glad to hear about Kansans studying our Constitution and discussing these important issues. I share your concern that President Obama’s appointment of “czars” sidesteps the appointment process defined by the Constitution. I oppose the czar appointment process and am working towards banning its use as I did during my time in the House. The Senate must be allowed to exercise its “advice and consent” power in the case of presidential appointments.

Return to Top