Texas GOP Rep.-elect Beth Van Duyne, who got started in local politics because of her daughter’s preexisting health condition, said Americans should no longer be stuck with the Affordable Care Act.
Van Duyne, who won one of the most competitive open congressional seats in the country, said she wants to work on providing a replacement for the act, known as ObamaCare, because the law’s promise to make health care affordable has been broken.
“The Affordable Care Act was one of the biggest lies that has ever been promulgated in U.S. history,” Van Duyne told Fox News in a recent interview during congressional orientation. “The fact that you’re going to be able to keep your doctor; it’s going to lower your health care costs; it’s going to increase your quality — those were all lies. That did not happen. In fact, it was quite the opposite.”
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Van Duyne wants to “personalize” health insurance plans by need, arguing a healthy twentysomething should not have to purchase the same level of coverage as someone with an ongoing medical condition. Her overall goal is to increase access to care, improve quality and decrease cost.
The solutions the new congresswoman suggests include making health insurance portable and not dependent on the employer, buying insurance over state lines, expanding group coverage, increasing the amount of Health Savings Accounts and making health care premiums tax-deductible.
She supports protecting people with preexisting conditions and keeping kids on their parents’ insurance plan until age 26 — two popular provisions of the Affordable Care Act.
Texas is suing to overturn the Affordable Care Act in the United States Supreme Court, and the Trump administration has supported the constitutional challenge to former President Barack Obama’s signature health care law. Regardless of the court outcome, Van Duyne said Republicans need to be ready with solutions.
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“I don’t think that you can repeal without having a replacement. I think that Republicans need to make sure that that is a focus over the next two years on providing those choices,” she said, pointing to the work of Medicare Advantage as a positive example of providing choices.
“I think that you need to have as many choices people could make [so] that they will not want to buy any of the ObamaCare plans because they are expensive,” Van Duyne added.
Van Duyne, 50, is a divorced mom of two who previously served as mayor of Irving, Texas, and most recently as a regional administrator for the Department of Housing and Urban Development in the Trump administration.
This November, Van Duyne held the hotly contested Texas 24th Congressional District for Republicans, beating Democrat Candace Valenzuela 49% to 48%.
The district covers the northern suburban area between Fort Worth and Dallas. It had been represented since 2005 by GOP Rep. Kenny Marchant and Democrats saw an opportunity to pick up the open seat with Marchant’s retirement.
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“I ran being a pragmatist. My first job is … to work with people who want solutions,” Van Duyne said, citing the need for transportation and infrastructure investment and another round of coronavirus relief.
Van Duyne moved around as a child since her dad was a doctor in the Air Force, and she said she never stayed in the same school for more than two years until college. At the age of 17, she moved out, worked various jobs and couch-surfed. “For three years, I would have been considered technically homeless,” Van Duyne said.
Tired of living paycheck to paycheck, Van Duyne went to Cornell University and graduated with the help of student loans. Her first job out of college was for a health care startup, where she saw how insurance companies were dominating the relationships between doctors and patients.
Van Duyne got married and became pregnant with a boy, but she lost the baby midway through her pregnancy, suffering a devastating personal loss. She got pregnant with her second child, but her daughter was born with complications and had to undergo eye surgery within her first week of life.
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The new mom had to fight her insurance company to cover the cost of the operation and eventually won. Katie, now age 21, needed nine surgeries during her first year of life.
“I don’t think any parent should have to fight to make sure that an essential critical surgery that needs to be performed on their child is covered,” Van Duyne said.
Van Duyne left her full-time job to stay home and care for Katie and did consulting work on the side. She would take her daughter to her park in Irving, but Katie would cover her eye because the sun irritated it. Van Duyne started asking the neighborhood parks committee for shade at the playground.
The request for her daughter’s well-being eventually landed her as chairperson of her local parks committee. She went door-to-door to successfully rally a neighborhood effort for a new park.
Once the park was built, Van Duyne developed a reputation as a doer and was encouraged to tackle a zoning issue in the community, she said. Upset with how her city council representative handled the request, Van Duyne mounted a campaign against him. In 2004, as a mom of a 5-year-old daughter and a 2-year-old son, Van Duyne beat the incumbent.
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The quest for a neighborhood park launched Van Duyne’s unexpected journey of serving on Irving City Council for six years, being elected as Irving mayor two times and now landing in the halls of Congress, ready to tackle the country’s thorniest issues.
“People see somebody who gets things done,” Van Duyne added, “and they tend to be asked to do more.”