In a narrow victory, the House of Representatives passed the GOP’s Obamacare replacement plan, the American Health Care Act, Thursday despite protest and opposition from medical organizations and industry groups.
The bill, which was voted on without a review by the Congressional Budget Office and with only three hours of debate, passed 217-213, with no Democratic support. It needed 216 votes to pass.
Only 20 Republicans defected from party ranks to join in opposition.
Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn issued a statement calling the vote a “rushed and ill-conceived attempt to score a short-term political victory.”
Some of the harshest aspects of the GOP’s plan, dubbed “Trumpcare” by many, involve the vague language surrounding pre-existing conditions.
The MacArthur Amendment, sponsored by Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), appears to protect people with pre-existing conditions; however Politifact experts reported that the language in the bill would allow insurers to charge premiums based on the “health status” of the insured, which is determined by one’s health history and predictions on future health, leading to the potential of higher premiums.
Earlier last week, Vox reported that a loophole in the ACHA would allow members of Congress and their families to keep certain Obamacare policies, mainly protections for insuring pre-existing conditions.
So Congress gets to keep Obamacare, but not the American people? Makes total sense. https://t.co/0uQbikU6RB
— Robert Garcia (@RobertGarciaLB) May 4, 2017
Following Vox’s report, House Republicans voted to remove the exemption prior to Thursday.
Another stark criticism comes from the list of pre-existing conditions, which now includes rape, domestic violence and postpartum depression.
The women’s group UltraViolet called the AHCA an “attack on women” in a statement, saying that the vote is the Republican way of telling victims of rape and gender violence, “you’re on your own.”
— Rep. Alan Lowenthal (@RepLowenthal) May 3, 2017
From Washington D.C., Rep. Alan Lowenthal (D-47), who represents Long Beach and much of the surrounding area, attacked the ACHA’s $800 billion funding cut to Medicaid.
“This bill guts Medicaid and premium tax credits to those most in need in order to give a huge tax break to the wealthiest Americans and CEOs of insurance companies,” Lowenthal said in a statement. “The latest version also allows states to let insurance companies charge seniors and those with pre-existing conditions even more, as well as do away with the essential health benefits guaranteed by the Affordable Care Act.”
During the presidential campaign, President Donald Trump boasted about being the only Republican to promise to safeguard Medicaid.
I was the first & only potential GOP candidate to state there will be no cuts to Social Security, Medicare & Medicaid. Huckabee copied me.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 7, 2015
From Sacramento, Gov. Jerry Brown issued a statement criticizing the GOP’s bill, singling out the districts of three Republican congressman where around a total of 300,000 people are at risk of losing health insurance under the proposed plan.
“This cruel and ill-conceived bill – the so-called American Health Care Act – rushed to a vote with no fiscal analysis, will hurt American families and it’s bad for California,” Brown said. “Millions will lose coverage, those with pre-existing conditions will be abandoned and costs will skyrocket. Just look at the districts of Representatives David Valadao (R-Hanford), Jeff Denham (R-Turlock) and Steve Knight (R-Lancaster) where 111,000, 109,000 and 76,000 Californians, respectively, are at risk of losing coverage because of this legislation.”
All of California’s 14 Republican representatives voted in favor of the AHCA.
“Since the GOP first proposed their plan, I received thousands of messages from constituents, as well as visits to my office and my recent town hall, all to let me know about their stories of life before the ACA, and to tell me that they have no interest in going back,” Lowenthal said. “I know that my Republican colleagues heard from their constituents as well—they should have listened to them.”
The AHCA still needs to pass through the Senate with a majority, 51, vote and will likely be voted on in June.