Rep. Scott DesJarlais (R-Tenn.)
Specialty: General practice
Active license: Yes
Medical degree: M.D., University of South Dakota, 1991
Sponsored legislation: HR 2854 (prohibits requiring employers to post collective-bargaining rights); House Joint Resolution 112 (disapproves of and nullifies IRS rule on ACA subsidies for health insurance premiums)
Key healthcare votes
Yea: Repeal of ACA, HR 2 (2011), HR 6079 (2012); repeal funding for health insurance exchanges, HR 1213 (2011); repeal prevention and public health fund, HR 1217 (2011)
(Answers provided via e-mail)
How does being a physician affect your approach to Congress?
“Not only was I a physician, but I ran my own medical practice. This background has allowed me to bring the perspective of both a doctor and small business owner to Congress and help me approach issues from the viewpoint of patients and healthcare providers. I didn’t go to medical school in hopes of one day ending up in Congress. I went to medical school because I wanted to help people. I want to do everything possible to ensure that individuals have access to quality care that is affordable.”
What happens now with the ACA?
“I have always advocated for full repeal of the Affordable Care Act. Admittedly, that will be much more difficult after this past election. Still, it seems that each and every day we find various aspects of the law that simply won’t work. My bill, HJ Res 112, addresses a huge issue within the ACA. When creating the law, Democrats only gave the authority and power to state run exchanges to issue premium tax credits and assess penalties on businesses for not offering health insurance. Now that many states are refusing to create exchanges, the federal government will step in and create federally run exchanges. The inherent problem is that the ACA never gave federally run exchanges the authority or power to offer these tax credits and collect these penalties.”
What’s a healthcare priority the ACA didn’t address?
“Any healthcare priority must be focused on reducing overall costs, increasing quality of care and expanding coverage. Adopting medical liability reform that truly holds down costs of care would be one starter, as well as structuring health savings accounts to allow Americans, and not insurance companies, to have more control over their healthcare decisions.”
Editor’s note: Last week, the watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington filed a complaint with the Office of Congressional Ethics alleging DesJarlais lied about a sexual relationship he had with a patient while he was her physician in 2000, which he admitted to in divorce proceedings. The organization filed an ethics complaint in October with the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners, which has not taken action on the matter. “This is clearly nothing more than a shallow publicity stunt by a far-left organization owned by George Soros and used to further his liberal agenda,” Robert Jameson, communications director for DesJarlais, said in an e-mailed statement.