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1 fun thing: Lunch with AFP's Lauren Stewart

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Oct 19, 2023

AFP's Lauren Stewart with her salmon lunch at Coastline Oyster Co. Photo: Victoria Knight/Axios

We're back with another lunch feature, this time with Lauren Stewart, who is a senior legislative affairs liaison for Americans for Prosperity and Concerned Veterans for America who lobbies on health care issues.

  • She sat down with Axios recently at Coastline Oyster Co. and, over the lemon-garlic salmon, talked about AFP's push to get movement on health savings accounts, health cost transparency and how she's already thinking beyond the 2024 election.
  • Before joining AFP's government relations teams last year, Stewart did state-level work for AFP, was part of the Mitt Romney 2012 and Marco Rubio 2016 presidential campaigns and worked for the Republican National Committee.

On AFP's push for a "personal option": Essentially, we believe that all American families should have their own personal option in their health care. If they like the care that they have, they can keep it.

  • If an HSA is better, and gives your family more options more buying power, you should be able to have it.… So when you hear the personal option, the way you can think of it is kind of the counterpunch to the public option.

Legislative priorities and look ahead: We just introduced with Reps. [Greg] Steube and Rep. [Kat] Cammack, a bill called the ACCESS Act. It expands the HSA option, so giving lower-income folks on Obamacare the option to take a portion of their subsidy in the form of an HSA.

  • The Health Care Fairness for All Act is our kind of paramount piece of legislation that expands HSAs for every single American.
  • Site-neutral payments in Medicare. It's something that's getting a ton of bipartisan support right now, and it's starting to really bubble up on both sides of the Hill.
  • Throughout this Congress, we've seen a number of our bills move through markup. You had the CHOICE Act get passed through the House.
  • The transparency bill was ready to go before all of the shutdown craziness happened. And the HSA package that came out of Ways and Means is all marked up and teed up to go. So we feel confident about the progress in the space.

The GOP vision for health care: We're not mandating anything. We're not going to push you into a health care plan or out of a health care plan that you like. It's going to be opening up more options.

  • The legislation that we're passing can only benefit people who take advantage of it and will virtually not affect you if you don't want to take advantage of an HSA. Nothing in your plan changes.
  • You're not hearing like a take-down comprehensive reform. It's where can we empower the patient and where can we increase access, affordability.

Looking past the election: The 2025 reform window is really bearing down on Congress. So that's the time in which a lot of the ACA provisions are going to expire.

  • We see these [policies] as commonsense solutions that we can get ahead of the game and kind of get these members thinking of it. So that when that 2025 reform window is bearing down, these ideas are out there, they're socialized, the benefits understood.
  • And we're ready to either tee up that legislation or be able to shift the mindset when we're working through that reform window.

Best Hill spotting: Paris Hilton in the Rayburn elevator.

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