He said the greatest accomplishment of U.S. House of Representatives this year was “continuing to push awareness on the health care law.”
“It is everything I thought it would be — in other words, a disaster,” DesJarlais said. “It was built on a poor foundation and passed without fully being read, and it’s been changed multiple times outside of the House of Representatives.
DesJarlais said the law is starting to impact people, and concerns voiced by some in the House are becoming reality.
He said many patients want decisions to be between them and their doctors. They do not want the government to play a role in the health decisions they have to make.
Discussion of the Affordable Care Act is expected to continue next year.
“I think first of all the president is going to have to step up and acknowledge that this is unworkable. He is going to have to delay the law at least a year,” DesJarlais said.
Although the Affordable Care Act has been a major topic, work is being done in other arenas.
Legislation that would most impact Tennessee focused on jobs, agriculture and student loans.
The Federal Agriculture Reform and Risk Management Act (FARRM) Act of 2013 is still being considered, and DesJarlais said he hopes to see it passed by the end of the year “to bring a little certainty to the agriculture industry here in the state.”
Job creation and stimulating the economy continue to be hot topics. Part of these discussions includes legislation that would reduce the regulations that businesses are required to follow.
“What we want to see is job growth and private sector expansion,” DesJarlais said.
Legislation is also being discussed to “stabilize the student loan market in terms of interest rates.”
Plans are in the works to promote training for industrial careers for high school graduates. DesJarlais said in many areas of his district, jobs require specialized training, not necessarily a college degree.
“Like in our district, with Nissan and Bridgestone there is a need for skilled labor in … mechatronics. Basically it is the people who deal with the more technical repair of robotics that work on the assembly line. There is a shortage there,” DesJarlais said.
DesJarlais said one possibility being discussed is to make Pell Grant funding available to those who are in a certificate program for technical jobs.
Also on the education front, DesJarlais said the House of Representatives has passed the reauthorization of No Child Left Behind with some changes to the requirements. The Senate is yet to take a vote on the issue.
DesJarlais said he was unsure how this would affect states, like Tennessee, that have received a waiver to the No Child Left Behind requirements.
Although not a federal decision, the Common Core State Standards have also been discussed in the House of Representatives.
DesJarlais said the only legislation passed was to establish that states could not be forced to accept Common Core.
“It’s going to be more of a state issue,” DesJarlais said, commenting that it was accepted at a state level.
Whether medications such as Sudafed should be prescription only as a way to combat methamphetamine production may also be discussed in the House of Representatives next year, DesJarlais said.
Other plans in Congress include increasing domestic energy production.
DesJarlais said legislation is being considered that would give states more oversight in domestic energy production, such as fracking.
Committee discussions are still working on “some form of budget agreement.” DesJarlais said Congress has new deadlines in January and February by which it needs to pass the agreements.