Health Care Concerns Top List for Local Leaders in Washington

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In two surveys of the Bryan/College Station Chamber of Commerce's 1,400 members, health care was the overwhelming biggest concern. As a result, it's the first talking point for the delegation of local leaders who have made the trip to Capitol Hill.

No matter where the conversations take place, bending the ear of the staffs of Texas Congressional delegation's members means getting the word to Washington about what's affecting the Brazos Valley.

"Most of our business owners have been very dismayed that their premiums have gone up dramatically," said Sharon Brown with Brown & Company Insurance Services. "The fees, the taxes and the regulatory requirements associated with this law are scary to a lot of our employers."

Among the calls in the delegation's platform: a replacing or amending of the Affordable Care Act to create a market-driven system, along with an expansion of personal responsibility incentives so people will take steps to have healthier lifestyles, and allowing states to create Medicaid expansion alternatives.

It's not just Texas the local delegates want to chat with and hear from, as stops are made at a number of out-of-state representative's offices depending on which committees they serve on or what bills or issues they may be pushing.

"We're at a national level right now, and we're trying to learn if the folks that are in, say Tennessee or Georgia or South Dakota or wherever they might be, are having the same kind of issues and having the same kind of thoughts that we do in Texas," said Scott Simpson, a retired College Station police officer.

Judy LeUnes is part of this delegation. The Democrat ran for the State House and doesn't share the Chamber's position, and while she's not presenting on the health care topic in deference to the Chamber, it's presented an opportunity to encourage bipartisanship.

"One of the things we've heard over and over again from the Congress representatives' aides we've talked to is about the gridlock and the need to work together, which, of course, I applaud and we all want, and we would have a lot more getting done that way," she said.