The House passed the bill to drastically reduce health coverage benefits 217-213, with 20 Republicans voting no and all Democrats in opposition.
U.S. Reps. Rick Crawford, Bruce Westerman and Steve Womack had said they would vote for the bill. U.S. Rep. French Hill of Little Rock had not committed this morning. Hill finally fessed up that, of course, he opposed Obamacare, too, and would vote for the legislation.
As written, it undermines coverage for pre-existing conditions, preserves great coverage for Congress itself (though sponsors have promised to change this) and holds land mines as yet undiscovered because it was rushed to a vote without a congressional budget office study or much time for members to read it. Passage in this form in the Senate is thought unlikely.
The League of Women Voters hit my mailbox first with a statement decrying the bill. There will be many more.
“This bill is anything but American—it abandons the American values of fairness, community, and concern for all—and it certainly won’t provide health care for all. This legislation only serves to benefit special interests and provide tax cuts for the rich, while leaving everyday Americans without access to affordable, quality health care.”
If this legislation becomes law:
* 24 million Americans will lose coverage by 2020
* Medicaid patients will no longer be able to get the care they need
* Women will go back to paying more than men for basic care
Here’s French Hill’s statement. He’s worried about insurance companies:
Last night, Aetna—one of the Nation’s largest insurers—made the announcement it would be pulling out of the ACA exchanges in the state of Virginia. Some counties in Arkansas also now only have one insurance option and, in September 2016, we saw a 25 percent average increase in premiums on the exchanges. Having one option is not choice and is not suitable.
This lack of insurers participating in the exchanges, causing massive price hikes for those in search of affordable insurance, has become a repeating theme over the course of the last few years.
“The status quo is not working for Arkansas and not working for our country. The reform measure that we advanced today will lower the cost of care for individuals and families, provide coverage for those with pre-existing conditions, and shift power back to the states with added flexibility in determining what policies will have the most positive outcomes on their own citizens and populations. What works in Arkansas might not work in California and this bill reflects that important understanding.
“This bill is just one important step in fixing our current health care system and still must undergo review and approval by the Senate before it may be signed into law. We also must continue to work with the administration and the Department of Health and Human Services to stabilize our health insurance markets and work with our colleagues in the House and Senate to enact additional legislative polices that will lower health care costs and increase competition and choices for all Americans.”
Not working for Arkansas? Don’t tell that to my former colleague, Hal Wofford Hutchison, who wrote on Facebook how the Affordable Care Act had provided treatment for her cancer. She wrote this to Hill, whom she attends church with, to implore him to vote for the legislation. Sorry, Hal.:
Without the Affordable Care Act, my cancer diagnosis would have meant my family and I would have become frozen in place, frozen in time, not able to change jobs or move forward in life because of a preexisting condition that prevented us from changing insurance companies for fear of losing much needed coverage. We would have been frozen in place until the coverage ran out, then we would have been just another tragic tale because, I’m sure you know that under the old insurance rules, coverage was limited to a set amount, about $1 million or thereabouts. That money runs out quickly when you’re receiving costly chemotherapy and $5000 Neulasta injections biweekly.
… Finally, the House’s repeated efforts to repeal the ACA are starting to look pathological and more than a little hateful. And the reasons I’ve heard you give for wanting to make the change don’t sound real and they don’t sound true, and frankly they’re starting to make me wonder about the man sitting across from me at church. So Representative Hill, I’m asking you to have compassion. Please stop trying to get rid of the Affordable Care Act and just fix the parts that need to be improved
The Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, which has been trying to recruit opponents for Hill in 2018, gave him a taste of what the campaign could look like:
“Congressman French Hill just voted to increase your health insurance premiums and deductibles, toss 24 million Americans off of their insurance, and to slap you with an age tax if you’re age 50 to 64 – and they robbed Medicare while doing it. If that’s not bad enough, French Hill also voted to let health insurance companies charge you more if you have a preexisting condition. That means if you, your kids, or your parents are sick with cancer, diabetes or any other illness, insurance will not be affordable.
“Make no mistake about it: French Hill must face the music, look his constituents in the eye, and answer for the mess they created. There is no question that this bill will cause incredible pain for hardworking Americans, particularly those fighting to make ends meet, and this vote will haunt Hill through Election Day.”
French Hill’s “yes” vote for this disastrous health care bill will end guaranteed protections for people with pre-existing conditions, like asthma, diabetes, cancer and even pregnancy. Beyond that, this bill will strip away health insurance from 24 million Americans, cause out-of-pocket costs like premiums and deductibles to skyrocket, and impose an unfair age tax on older Americans. There’s a reason that only 17% of Americans support this heartless and costly legislation.
You could apply the same release to the other Republican congressmen from Arkansas, but most are presumed to be safer from challenge than Hill, who represents a district where his home county, Pulaski, the biggest in the district, has rejected him and the previous Republican congressmen every time.