Mimi Walters on Important Issues: Past Votes and Quotes

Our research efforts in the district have indicated that Immigration, the Environment, and Healthcare are very important to constituents in the 45th Congressional District. Here is some information on how Representative Walters has voted on these issues, along with statements she has made in relation to these issues.

 

I. Immigration

Per the Washington Post, Walters has never issued a public statement or comment on Immigration Executive Order signed on January 27, 2017. No public position or statement is available on her website. 

Voted yes on H.R.240 - Department of Homeland Security Appropriations Act, 2015

Prohibits the Secretary of Homeland Security from using funds to implement changes to U.S. immigration policies set forth in certain memoranda from the U.S. President, the Secretary of Homeland Security or other executive branch officials (Title V, Sec. 579).

Prohibits the Secretary of Homeland Security from using funds to consider or renew applications for the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program (Title V, Sec. 580).

Voted yes on H.R.3009 - Enforce the Law for Sanctuary Cities Act

Amends the Immigration and Nationality Act to make a state or local subdivision ineligible for state criminal alien assistance program funding if it: (1) has in effect any law, policy, or procedure prohibiting or restricting communication with the Immigration and Naturalization Service or other government entity regarding an individual's citizenship or immigration status; or (2) prohibits state or local law enforcement officials from gathering information regarding an individual's citizenship or immigration status.

Withholds specified Department of Justice funds (for the State Criminal Alien Assistance Program, the Community-Oriented Policing Services program, and the Byrne JAG program) under parts Q and E of title I of the Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968 from such states or local subdivisions.

Voted Yes on H.R.158 - Visa Waiver Program Improvement and Terrorist Travel Prevention Act of 2015

Prohibits eligibility for the Visa Waiver program for anyone who has been present, at any time on or after March 1, 2011, in Iraq or Syria, in a country designated as one that has repeatedly provided support for acts of international terrorism, or in any other country or area of concern designated by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS); regardless of their country of citizenship — unless in those countries as part of a military or official government service for an ally.

In addition, the act pushes for greater security to prevent fraud in passport and visa documentation and approvals.

Wrote joint letter to HHS and State asking them to reject California’s effort to expand ACA coverage to undocumented immigrants.

 

II. The environment

  • In her 2016 campaign, she received about $20,000 from the oil and gas industry – her 9th largest industry contribution, even though the industry is 25th in our district.
  • Walters opposes the Clean Power Plan, an important protection that limits carbon pollution from power plants.
  • Walters supports the Keystone XL Pipeline that imports oil from Canada’s oil sands. Emissions from oil sands are 12% higher than emissions from conventional oil.
  • Walters is currently co-sponsoring H.R. 637, which seeks to limit the EPA’s authority to regulate greenhouse gasses.
  • In April 2015, Walters joined a tour hosted by multibillion dollar oil company Hess to find more ways to extract fossil fuels from sensitive marine habitats in the Gulf of Mexico.
  • Walters has supported several house resolutions that oppose protections and restrictions placed on companies that extract oil, gas, and minerals on public lands.

Source: http://politicsthatwork.com/voting-record/Mimi-Walters-412618

 

 

III. healthcare

On Thursday May 4, 2017, Representative Walters voted to pass the American Health Care Act (ACHA). For a summary of this bill, see:  https://www.govtrack.us/congress/bills/115/hr1628/summary

Previous to the passage of this legislation, many constituents contacted Walters' office regarding the Affordable Care Act. Often they would receive a standard response days or weeks later.  Here is an excerpt of the response letter, with fact-checking by our members.

“This law has caused massive disruption within the healthcare system by imposing $1 trillion in new taxes on families and job creators, while drastically limiting consumer choice. Millions of Americans have seen their healthcare insurance cancelled, lost access to their doctor, and experienced significantly increased premiums in the individual marketplace. In fact, 21 states have seen average premium increases of 25 percent or more and one-third of U.S. counties will have only one insurer participating in the exchanges.”

                                                     
— Mimi Walters

lying by ommission?

We've provided a breakdown of Walters' allegations with more comprehensive information for your review.

only 3.8% of health insurance consumers experience these issues

Most of the problems with the Affordable Care Act (ACA) she addresses in her letter are occurring in the government exchanges rather than in the broader health insurance market. Relatively speaking the exchanges are a very small part of the total. For example, in early 2016 there were about 11,100,000 individuals enrolled in the exchanges. By comparison in 2015 there were about 280,000,000 Americans who were covered through their employer, individual insurance from the open market, Medicare, Medicaid, or by other public means.

 

mimi Ignores many of the benefits of the ACA

While Mimi has drawn attention to real problems with the ACA affecting a small portion of plans, she does not give forthright credit to the ACA for the many benefits it has brought to all plans.

Several of the ACA benefits extending to all plans include

  • Preventative health care is now provided at no cost
  • No annual or lifetime dollar limits on essential benefits
  • People with pre-existing health conditions can no longer be denied coverage
  • Guaranteed coverage regardless of health status, age, gender, or other factors
  • Plans cannot charge more based on gender or health status
  • Young adults can stay on their parent’s plan until age 26

Mimi also neglects to give the ACA credit for making health insurance more affordable by subsidizing the cost of premiums for many low and middle income Americans and for extending coverage to between 16 and 19 million Americans who were not previously covered.

 

Why saying "Imposing $1 trillion in new taxes on families and job creators" is misleading

If we gave a $99 to a man and $1 to a woman, we could say "We gave $100 to men and women" and it would be true. That's what's happening with this statement. It's also ignoring the many tax credits that people and businesses may also experience. Generally speaking, if you already had insurance and made less than $200,000 a year, or are a small business owner with less than 25 employees - you're more likely to experience tax credits than tax burdens under the ACA. The four key changes to tax policies under the ACA are:

  1. Individual Mandate: Americans who can afford to obtain minimum essential health coverage must do so or get an exemption. If they do not, they have to pay a per-month fee.

  2. Employer Mandate: Large employers with more than 50 full-time equivalents must insure full-time employees or pay a per-month fee for each of their full-time employees. Over half of Americans get their insurance through work, and the largest group of uninsured is currently the working poor.

  3. Advanced Premium Tax Credits: Low-to-middle income Americans are eligible for tax credits, which reduce the upfront cost of premiums on health insurance purchased through their State’s “Health Insurance Marketplace.”

  4. Small Business Tax Credits: Small businesses with less than 25 full-time equivalents may be eligible for tax credits of up to 50% of their cost of employee premiums through the Small Business Health Options Program.

 

What really happened when "their healthcare insurance [was] cancelled"

Estimates of between 2.6 and 4.7 million Americans, mainly consumers in the individual market, did have their healthcare insurance cancelled following the implementation of the ACA because their plan no longer met the coverage standards of the new law. However, most of these same individuals were offered a similar replacement plan, and individuals whose plans were cancelled have also been able to shop for new plans on the government ACA exchange or through a broker or insurance carrier directly. While the available options have been well received by many people, not everyone is happy with their choices and or the costs of their replacement plans. Regardless, all Americans continue to have access to health insurance plans.

It is worth noting too that the individual market is notorious for churn, even pre-ACA it was estimated that only 17 percent of all policy holders kept their same plan for more than two years.

 

What really happened when "[they] lost access to their doctor"

One of the way insurance companies have reduced the premium cost of their plans, especially on the government run exchanges, is by narrowing the network of doctors available. A narrower network allows the insurance companies to negotiate better prices with the medical providers in exchange for patient volume. This translates into lower cost plans for consumers but it also means that for some people the doctor they were seeing is not in their plan’s network. Plans with wider networks are often available, and may include a person’s doctor that their current plan does not, although the premium cost will likely be higher.  

 

What really happened when "[they] experienced significantly increased premiums in the individual marketplace"

In late 2016 the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services announced that premiums for the benchmark silver-level plans would be increasing by an average of 25 percent in the 38 states using the federal exchange. 25 percent is an average, rates increased by 145 percent in Phoenix, Arizona but actually decreased 4 percent in Indianapolis, Indiana. This compares with average increases of 2 percent in 2015 and 7 percent in 2016. Most consumers will be shielded from the full increase however because more than 8 out of 10 consumers on the exchanges qualify for a tax credit that reduces the final cost of their premium by an average of 72 percent.

This most recent increase, while shocking, was not unexpected and there is reason to believe that overall rates are still below the pre-ACA trendline. This past October the Los Angeles Times wrote, “In November 2009, the Congressional Budget Office projected that single coverage premiums for a benchmark silver plan would average $5,200 in 2016. The average for those plans in states using the federal healthcare.gov exchange will be $5,586 next year (2017), in line with the CBO’s annual projected growth rate. By some measures, 2017 premiums will be lower than they might have been without the ACA, even after the price spike. That was the conclusion of Loren Adler and Paul Ginsburg of the Brookings Institution, who reckoned that rates came in so low in the first years of the ACA exchanges that even with a 25% hike, they haven’t caught up to the pre-ACA trendline.”

 

Why "One-third of U.S. counties will have only one insurer participating in the exchanges" is an improvement

A Kaiser Family Foundation analysis shows that almost one-third of U.S. counties will only have one insurer participating in the government ACA exchanges in 2017. This is a marked increase from 2016 when 7 percent of U.S. counties had only one option. Insurers like UnitedHealth are leaving the government ACA exchanges in some markets due to higher than expected costs and or lower than expected enrollments. Recently Aetna, who had claimed to leave the exchanges for similar reasons was found by a federal judge to have lied regarding their motives for leaving the exchanges, with their truer intention to be damaging the ACA's reputation as a negotiation tactic with the Justice Department regarding a planned merger with Humana. Consumers who are willing to forego their tax credit or who do not qualify for the credit have the option of shopping for an insurance plan off the government run exchange where they will likely find more than one insurer offering plans.

In summary

We do not believe that the Affordable Care Act is perfect policy, and we see that while the benefits brought by it were great that there are real people who were hurt by it — and we fully support finding solutions to address those shortcomings.

However, we disagree with Walters' approach of misleading her constituents through the cherry-picking of data points and ignoring the many benefits brought by the ACA. It's irresponsible leadership, and it's a condescending choice to make when speaking to us.

We deserve a representative who understands the complexity of the health care insurance market and can educate their constituents to them... not one that we have to explain things to.

 

IV. Resources USED TO RESEARCH MIMI WALTERS' RECORD

 

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