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Callers voice health care, business, opioid concerns in Tipton town hall

Phase-out of Medicaid expansion among hot topics

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Cortez, addressed concerned listeners on multiple issues during a telephone town hall Monday evening.

Most callers said they were worried about potential changes in health care policies. Asked about Medicaid coverage, Tipton assured residents of Colorado’s 3rd Congressional District that those who qualified would keep their coverage.

“If you qualify for Medicaid, your Medicaid will continue,” Tipton said. “No one is going to be kicked off.”

But both the House and the Senate bills would phase out the Medicaid expansion program. The Affordable Care Act increased the income limit for those receiving Medicaid in some states. The expansion increased the number of recipients by 11 million. The proposed bills would curtail federal coverage and would result in the loss of coverage for people above a lowered income cap. Medicaid covers one in five Americans and is the nation’s largest single health insurer.

Callers also voiced anxiety on coverage of pre-existing conditions. Tipton said no one wants people with pre-existing conditions to be uninsured.

“Irrespective of politics, we all want to make sure people with pre-existing conditions are covered,” Tipton said.

The Congressional Budget Office predicts the House bill would cause 23 million people to lose coverage, while the Senate bill would cause 22 million to lose coverage.

Other callers brought up issues such water rights, the opioid crisis in the state, free choice of education, and legislation in favor of small businesses.

Small businesses

Some callers asked Tipton about his promises and goals for small Colorado businesses.

Tipton said he is trying to drop the corporate tax from 35 percent to 15 percent. The United States’ corporate tax rate is the highest in the world, and nearly half of Colorado’s workforce is employed by small businesses, according to a report by the U.S. Small Business Administration. Tipton said his district has a harder time economically than other districts.

“Small businesses are the backbone of our country,” Tipton said. “We need to be able to make sure that America is a place where you want to be able to do business, have the opportunity to grow the business and be able to maintain the jobs you have and hopefully be able to create new jobs as well.”

Water rights

Tipton said he is working on water legislation this week and plans to introduce The Water Protection Act. The bill would prevent the federal government from taking private water rights from farmers, ranchers and ski resorts without compensation.

“Our legislation would codify that this is actually a private right,” Tipton said. “This is part of standing up for our water rights.”

Opioid crisis

Multiple callers asked about Tipton’s commitment to addressing the opioid crisis and providing treatment. Colorado received a $7.8 million grant for opioid treatment and prevention in May from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. A state press release said the money will be allocated for programs like medication-assisted therapy, family therapy, overdose reversal medications and partnerships with law enforcement.

“In terms of trying to treat the addiction, this is something that is going to take a committed effort, not only in our community, but resources from the federal government and out of our state as well,” Tipton said.

The Congressman said more than 60,000 people signed up to participate in the telephone town hall.

Josephine Peterson is a reporting intern for the Herald in Washington, D.C., and a recent graduate of American University. Reach her at jpeterson@durangoherald.com and follow her on Twitter @jopeterson93

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