Two New Jersey Republican in Congress are expected to vote against the American Health Care Act, either due to political objections or because it would leave too many residents in their districts with financial hardship or without the insurance coverage they now receive.
U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo, R-2nd, has campaigned on the same ‘repeal and replace’ rhetoric other Republicans use to assail the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as ‘Obamacare’ but now with a majority in Congress and control in the White House it is clear the GOP has nothing to better serves the millions of Americans who cannot obtain affordable health insurance in a free market.
Congressman Leonard Lance (R, NJ-07) is also said to be opposed to the Republican health care package, but he did not express concern about the 22,000 constituents who would lose coverage or the his district’s loss of $124 million in federal funding a year.
“I do not want to vote on a bill that has no chance of passing over in the Senate,” Lance said.
By contrast, LoBiondo said, “Simply put, this bill does not meet the standards of what was promised; it is not as good as or better than what we currently have.”
“It is clear Obamacare is failing. From the collapse of its public exchanges to double and triple-digit premium increases, affordability that was promised in the Affordable Care Act never materialized,” said LoBiondo. “Rather, individuals were mandated to buy insurance or face a penalty; businesses reduced workers’ hours; new taxes on wheelchairs and crutches were instituted; and the promise of being able to retain your doctor was not kept.”
“Not a day goes by that I do not hear about Obamacare’s devastating impact on individuals and small businesses in South Jersey,” said LoBiondo. “I have also met with constituents concerned how proposed changes would affect coverage for their children, providing care for elderly parents, or continuing their cancer and diabetes treatments. Congress deals with a lot of issues, but nothing is as deeply personal to every American as healthcare.”
Drew Altman, of the Kaiser Family Foundation, said deductibles would rise under the GOP health care plan. Altman explained that people with modest means and limited tax credits,will mostly buy health plans with lower premiumsand high deductibles because genuinely good coverage is expensive.
“My prior votes to repeal all or parts of Obamacare underscore what I have long argued – we need a better health care system,” said LoBiondo. “Regrettably, the current health care proposal is not better for South Jersey.”
“Under the current proposal, many South Jersey residents would be left with financial hardship or without the coverage they now receive. Our seniors on Medicare already struggle to make each dollar stretch. Three South Jersey counties have more than 30 percent of their residents receiving Medicaid assistance. Medical professionals – our hospitals, doctors, nurses – are opposed.
“I appreciate Vice President Pence, Speaker Ryan and the House Republican leadership for considering these serious concerns during our recent meetings on this proposal. Unfortunately, the changes outlined do not go far enough to address key and vital issues I have on the bill’s impact on residents and businesses in South Jersey. Accordingly, I will vote no on this health care plan.”
LoBiondo’s resistance could come at a price.
President Trump on Tuesday bluntly laid out the political stakes for Republicans if this bid to overhaul the health care system falters out of the gate.
“A loss is not acceptable, folks,” said Trump, who told Republicans in the House of Representatives on Tuesday morning they would face “political problems” for opposing the bill to repeal Obamacare.
Trump reportedly told House members that after promising voters for years that they would repeal the Affordable Care Act, they have little choice but to vote for the bill before them.
“While Trump was failing local businesses and workers, Frank LoBiondo accepted more campaign contributions from Trump than anyone else currently running for Congress,” said Dave Cole, the Democrat who was LoBiondo’s last opponent.
NBC News did not include LoBiondo’s name on a list 26 GOP House members reportedly opposed to the Republican health bill. Since no Democrat can be expected to help repeal Obamacare, GOP leaders can afford to lose only 21 members of their caucus or the measure will not pass.
“I campaigned in support of a repeal and replace bill that would make health care more affordable and accessible and provide a smooth transition to those who were forced into Obamacare through no fault of their own,” Lance told USA Today. “The bill, as currently drafted, does none of these things. What’s more, important ideas like purchase of policies across state lines, small business pooling and medical malpractice reform are absent from the legislation.”
It will be interesting to see if tough talk against Trump persists when the White House starts throwing its weight around to corral GOP lawmakers straying from the party line.
“Cutting programs through the Department of Justice and revenue builders like the NEA are penny wise but pound foolish,” said Lance, of Trump’s budget plan, which eliminates the National Endowment for the Arts and raises military spending by $54 billion. “Congress will have the final say on spending priorities.”
If the bill passes, it would head to the Senate, where Republicans hope for moving the legislation before the Easter recess, although many senators have expressed doubts that the process can pass that quickly in their chamber.
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