U.S. Rep. Chris Gibson said he’ll be just as receptive to the public in light of the Jan. 8 shooting at a congressional event in Arizona, but a staffer said behind-the-scenes precautions are being taken.
“I think it’s vitally important that representatives stay in touch with constituents,” said Gibson, R-Kinderhook. “I plan on making a very aggressive constituent outreach and meeting schedule.”
District director Steve Bulger said Capitol police urged the staffs of all members of Congress to notify local police when they’re planning an event, so everyone’s in the loop.
Rep. Gabrielle Giffords, D-Ariz., was shot in the head and is still hospitalized in serious condition; six people were killed in the Tucson shooting. The alleged gunman, Jared Loughner, has been arrested.
“My thoughts and prayers are with Gabby,” Gibson said. “It’s a terrible tragedy that occurred.”
On Wednesday, Gibson plans to vote for a repeal of the health care reform act that passed last spring, and he said Monday after a Martin Luther King Jr. Day event in Saratoga Springs that he hopes for a replacement that keeps several parts of the original bill but goes further in saving money.
“I think we have to have a replacement,” Gibson said. “I believe there will be a replacement.”
Among the things Gibson wants to keep are the clause that prohibits insurers from denying coverage for pre-existing conditions and the ability for parents to keep their children on their policy until they’re 26.
“What we really need is a patient-centric reform bill,” he said.
He said the new legislation needs to limit medical providers’ legal liability to keep insurance costs down and also needs to align with free market principles.
“Our health care system clearly needs reform, but what the Democratic majority passed last year, over bipartisan opposition and against the will of the American people, is not the solution,” he said in a statement earlier this month.
“We need legislation that ensures every American can access quality and affordable health care in a way that does not result in a massive government takeover, does not endanger small businesses and will not bankrupt our country.”
Also this week, the House expects to instruct committees on drafting replacement legislation, which Gibson called an important first step in the two parties working together.
“There are many of us who think that we should work with the other side.”
Gibson had wanted a repeal and replacement vote simultaneously. “I’m disappointed that we’re not doing it at the same time,” he said.
He expects the to-be-drafted House replacement legislation to dictate whether the Senate and president agree to repeal the current law, the Affordable Care Act.
People will put pressure on their senators and the president to repeal if the new legislation is better, Gibson said.