Democrats and health groups charted out their next moves to protect the Affordable Care Act and turn up the pressure on Republicans, who are defending their health-care overhaul legislation they barely managed to heave across the finish line in the House on Thursday.
President Trump, who had hosted House members at the White House to congratulate themselves on passing the embattled bill, insisted Friday morning it will ultimately improve the health-care system, whose problems Republicans have blamed on Obamacare for years.
“Big win in the House — very exciting!” Trump tweeted Friday morning. “But when everything comes together with the inclusion of Phase 2, we will have truly great health care!”
Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers (R-Wash.) wrote in an op-ed published Thursday night that the bill “isn’t perfect” but is still a “major improvement” to the Affordable Care Act.
“It doesn’t include every single component I wanted,” McMorris Rodgers wrote in The Washington Post. “But it came down to the [American Health Care Act] or the continued disaster of Obamacare, which was an easy choice.”
Yet the GOP health-care bill, which now heads over to the Senate, is likely to be a big political hot potato in next year’s election, as it could disrupt health insurance for millions of Americans by dismantling big parts of the Affordable Care Act. Democratic political groups are poised and ready to attack moderate Republicans who supported it and could be vulnerable in 2018.
After Rep. Chris Collins told CNN that he hadn’t read the entire text of the legislation, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee was quick to blast the Republican from New York, saying he “doesn’t respect or care about” his constituents.
“This disturbing admission makes it clear that Collins doesn’t respect or care about the people who sent him to Washington,” said Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee spokesman Evan Lukaske. “Instead of reading pharmaceutical stock financial statements, Collins should actually read the legislation that would take away health care from thousands of his constituents.”
Health associations, who were largely dismayed by the GOP health-care legislation, are turning their attention to Senate Republicans, who will now take on the issue in the next few months. They’re putting pressure on senators to ensure a final bill revamping President Obama’s health-care law doesn’t cost millions of Americans the insurance coverage they gained under it.
“The bill passed by the House today will result in millions of Americans losing access to quality, affordable health insurance and those with preexisting health conditions face the possibility of going back to the time when insurers could charge them premiums that made access to coverage out of the question,” the American Medical Association said in a statement. “Action is needed, however, to improve the current health care insurance system.”
Health insurers are pleased the GOP health-care bill would repeal the law’s taxes, but dislike other parts, like how it would reduce the insurance subsidies available to people without employer-sponsored coverage.
“We stand ready to work with members of the Senate and all policymakers, offering our recommendations for how this bill can be improved to ensure the private market delivers affordable coverage for all Americans,” America’s Health Insurance Plans said in a statement.
The Senate may not even use the health-care bill House Republicans passed this week, but instead start from scratch. A group of 12 Republicans are working on their own plan to replace Obama’s health-care law.
They include the leaders of two top health-care committee — Finance Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah) and Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) — along with several members in leadership including Sens. John Thune (R-S.D.), John Barrasso (R-Wyo.) and John Cornyn (R-Tex.). Several prominent conservatives, Sens. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), are also among the dozen members.