With the Affordable Care Act still in its infancy, now is not the time to be taxing people who don’t have health insurance, said Rep. Ami Bera (D-California). Bera, who was a doctor for 20 years, suggested delaying the health insurance tax for two years. Bera, who in 2013 co-sponsored a bill aimed at delaying the tax, plans to champion similar legislation this year.

Also see: CMS announces special tax season ACA enrollment period

“This tax is not going to get repealed in a full repeal,” he said Wednesday at the National Association of Health Underwriters’ Capitol Conference in Washington, D.C. “Let’s give people a chance to get enrolled. Let’s keep costs down.”

The health insurance tax holds business owners back from expanding their business, Bera said. “Right now, let’s not do anything that adds to that premium payment,” he said. “This is the Affordable Care Act. So let’s keep health care affordable, particularly for those middle-class families and those small business owners.”

Also see: ACA penalty to be owed by as many as 6 million taxpayers

For many people, despite having coverage under the ACA, health care still isn’t affordable, said Rep. Diane Black (R-Tennessee). High deductibles under some bronze plans are forcing individuals to forgo needed medicine and care, she said Wednesday. “This is a true financial burden.”

A former nurse, Black said her constituents often complain the health care law is confusing — that’s why it’s crucial brokers speak to lawmakers to ensure policies that will actually solve problems are written and passed. “You’re the boots on the ground,” she said. “Legislators need to hear from you all before they make policy.”

The best way brokers’ opinions will resonate with Congress is to share stories of real clients, Bera said, like a small business owner whose bottom line is affected. “That’s incredibly powerful,” he said. “We work for those constituents back home.”

Handwritten letters are also a great way to get the attention of legislators, Sen. Tim Scott (R-South Carolina) said Tuesday. Letters standout over the deluge of emails legislative offices receive, he said. A high volume of phone calls is another attention grabber, said Scott, who was in the insurance industry for 25 years. “Those two forms of communication are powerful,” he said.

As our health care system goes through this redesign, Bera said, brokers who understand the complex law are relied upon to assist consumers. “You play a critical role in helping them navigate this transition,” he said.

Also see: Healthcare.gov CEO: Brokers are ‘integral’ in post-ACA world

Despite a Republican-controlled Congress and a Democrat in the White House, Bera said the two parties can work together, and bipartisanship is something he wants the next president to embrace. “You don’t elect us to do the easy things,” Bera said. “You elect us to do the right things.” 

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