FLORENCE – In one of a series of symposiums taking place around the seventh congressional district in South Carolina this summer, U.S. Rep. Tom Rice joined forces with U.S. Rep. Tom Price, R-GA 6th district, a physician by trade, to talk healthcare reform and other alternatives to the Affordable Care Act on Monday.

The two Republican representatives spoke to a group of healthcare providers, businessmen and women and education providers at a luncheon at Francis Marion University before touring the school’s state-of-the-art Frank B. Lee Nursing building on campus.

Rice said the event was just one in a series of events on different topics he is having in an effort to better understand the people in his district.

“This is a new congressional district and I’m a new congressman so I’m trying to get out with the public to let people know that I’m listening, that I care and that I want to focus on solutions that are good for them,” Rice said. “If people have concerns then I want to know about them.

“I’m trying to talk to them about what I can do to help them, particularly in this district, but also in getting the economy going, promoting job creation and making sure the people’s needs are met and their quality of life improves.”

Bringing Rep. Price along for Monday’s healthcare chat was important to Rice, who is supporting Price’s Republican alternative to the ACA – House bill H.R. 2300 – which Price says focuses on getting people covered while solving insurance challenges, saving hundreds of billions of dollars through lawsuit abuse for claims and does so without raising taxes or putting Washington in charge.

“That’s really the key – the patients ought to be in charge, not Washington or the insurance companies,” Price said. “If you think about the sorts of things you want from healthcare – to pick your doctor, where you’re going to be treated, when and how – the president’s law makes it so that’s more difficult for you, this makes it so you’re more in charge.”

Price said the main reason he visited the seventh district with Rice was so he could take back to Washington people’s concerns over the ACA, particularly medical provider concerns “that these folks have about just being able to do their job and have Washington get out of the way.”

Rice and Price both agreed that what they are hearing from their constituents, medical providers and from citizens around the country is an uneasiness with the ACA that leaves them unsure of their rights or coverage, and Rice said that is causing a problem with the economy as well.

“The American public is not in favor of the ACA, and businesses certainly aren’t,” Rice said. “The ACA is one of the reasons why the economy continues to move forward so slowly because people are uncertain – they don’t know how it’s going to affect them. It dis-incentivizes businesses from hiring new employees.”

BY LINDSAY S. BUCHANAN Morning News lbuchanan@florencenews.com