U.S. House Passes Revised Version of the American Health Care Act—Michigan U.S. Reps. Respond

U.S. House Passes Revised Version of the American Health Care Act—Michigan U.S. Reps. Respond

by Dave Alexander

The final vote was 217 in favor and 213 against. The House bill to revise Obamacare now goes to the Senate.

Here are key aspects of the House version of bill (per the AP):

  • Ends tax penalties Obama’s law imposes on individuals who don’t purchase health insurance and larger employers who don’t offer coverage to workers.
  • Halts extra payments Washington sends states to expand Medicaid to additional poorer Americans, and forbids states that haven’t already expanded Medicaid to do so. Changes Medicaid from an open-ended program that covers beneficiaries’ costs to one that gives states fixed amounts of money annually.
  • Erases Obama’s subsidies for people buying individual policies, based mostly on consumers’ incomes and premium costs. Replaces them with tax credits that grow with age that must be used to defray premiums. The credits are refundable, which means they even go to people with little or no tax liability. Credits may not be used to buy policies that provide abortion coverage.
  • Repeals Obama’s taxes on people with higher incomes and on insurance companies, prescription drug makers, some medical devices, expensive employer-provided insurance plans and tanning salons. Obama’s law uses the revenue to help pay for its expanded coverage.
  • Requires insurers to apply 30 percent surcharges to customers who’ve let coverage lapse for more than 63 days in the past year. This would include people with pre-existing medical conditions.
  • Lets states get federal waivers allowing insurers to charge older customers higher premiums than younger ones by as much as they’d like. Obama’s law limits the difference to a 3-1 ratio.
  • States can get waivers exempting insurers from providing consumers with required coverage of specified health services, including hospital and outpatient care, pregnancy and mental health treatment.
  • States can get waivers from Obama’s prohibition against insurers charging higher premiums to people with pre-existing health problems, but only if the person has had a gap in insurance coverage. States could get those waivers if they have mechanisms like high-risk pools that are supposed to help cover people with serious, expensive-to-treat diseases. Critics say these pools are often under-funded and ineffective.
  • Provides $8 billion over five years to help states finance their high-risk pools. This late addition, aimed at winning over votes, is on top of $130 billion over a decade in the bill for states to help people afford coverage.
  • Retains Obama’s requirement that family policies cover grown children to age 26, and its prohibition against varying premiums because of a customer’s gender.

“Today’s vote is further proof that Republicans in Congress would rather do the bidding of their donors and corporations instead of standing up for the majority of Americans,” said Lonnie Scott, executive director of Progress Michigan. “With millions in the streets, attending town hall meetings, calling and writing their member of Congress, it should have been easy to hear and listen to the people. Instead, our Republican Congressional delegation ignored their own constituents – their own neighbors – and passed an unpopular bill that will hurt the people they supposedly represent. During elections these same Republicans claim to be ‘pro-life’ but their actions today will likely cost people their lives and/or livelihoods. It’s a shame that campaign rhetoric and political ideology have overrode sound policy, but as we’ve witnessed in Michigan over they past eight years, that seems to be the Republican way.”

All nine members of the Republican delegation voted for the bill while all five members of the Democratic delegation opposed it.

“We deserve a government of, by and for the people, but today those who voted for Trumpcare have turned their backs on the people of Michigan and people around the country,” Scott continued. “We thank those who opposed this bill and urge Senators Stabenow and Peters to fight against passage of Trumpcare in the United States Senate.”

Here’s how Michigan Congressional members responded to the vote:

Senator Gary Peters Tweeted out this video statement before the vote:

Senator Debbie Stabenow released this statement:

“I’m committed to working across the aisle to lower health care costs for Michigan families and small businesses, make prescription drugs more affordable, and improve care for middle-class families.  House Republicans instead passed a plan today that would raise costs for Michigan families, eliminate protections if you or a family member has a preexisting condition like cancer or a heart condition, and take us back to the days when insurance companies were in charge of your health care.  I will strongly oppose this plan in the Senate.”

Congressman John Conyers released the following statement:

“I’ve served in Congress for 52 years and it’s hard for me to recall a time when we’ve voted on something so obviously and intentionally harmful to seniors and working people in this country. This legislation strips healthcare from 24 million people. It requires seniors to pay 100% or more of their income in premiums. This legislation dramatically cuts Medicaid, directly contradicting Mr. Trump’s claim not to.”

Congressman Dan Kildee released the following statement:

“I voted no on Trumpcare because it forces families to pay higher costs for worse health care. It is absolutely heartless that 24 million people will lose their insurance under Trumpcare. Under the Republican health care plan, Americans with pre-existing conditions will lose the guarantee of coverage and be segregated into high-risk pools, where they will face higher premiums, co-pays and deductibles. Trumpcare also creates an ‘age tax’ and steals from Medicare, forcing older Americans to pay more out of pocket. Simply put, Trumpcare is reckless and dangerous.”

Congressman Tim Walberg released the following statement:

“Obamacare is on the brink of collapse and has failed to live up to its many promises. Families and small businesses are facing skyrocketing premiums and insurers are dropping out of the marketplaces leaving behind fewer options. One-third of the counties in the United States only have one insurance provider to choose from and some counties have no choice at all. We told our constituents we would fix the mess Obamacare created, and this legislation is an important step towards undoing the damage and providing relief. It moves power away from Washington, gives flexibility to states, and puts doctors and patients at the center of their health care decisions. It brings back choice and competition, drives down costs, and provides protections for patients with pre-existing conditions. As this bill heads to the Senate, we must continue working on solutions to rescue families from a rapidly collapsing health care system.”

Congresswoman Brenda Lawrence released the following statement:

“There has been no bipartisan input, no thorough review of the bill and no CBO score to gauge the impact of this healthcare plan. On an issue as important to our economy, and vital to the wellbeing of ordinary Michiganders and Americans, this can be called nothing but an outrage. The ACA is not perfect, but it has provided insurance to millions of Americans, and saved thousands of lives. The bill pushed the uninsured rate to a record low rate of 8.6%, something we should celebrate. From the original scoring of this bill, we know that the Republican plan will drastically increase the uninsured rate in this country, and take away insurance from at least 24 million Americans. The Republican’s plan punishes those who have a gap in insurance coverage by imposing a 30% increase in premiums.”

Congresswoman Debbie Dingell released the following statement:

“Today, my colleagues in the House of Representatives voted to rip health insurance away from at least 24 million Americans and turn back the clock on progress to ensure quality, affordable healthcare for all. This legislation literally means life or death for people across this country – it guts protections for pre-existing conditions, ends Medicaid expansion – which reduced the uninsured rate in Michigan by half – charges older Americans five times more for care, and steals from Medicare – all in order to give $600 billion in tax breaks to the wealthy and big corporations. This is not who we are.”

Congressman Sander Levin released the following statement:

“Today, House Republicans turned their backs on the health needs of millions and millions of Americans. Their rigid ideology has blinded them to what matters most for the families of America – insurance for good health. This will not be the decisive step. Millions of Americans have already risen up, told us their stories – and more will now in still larger numbers. Over $1 trillion would be taken from Medicare, Medicaid and premium assistance for Americans purchasing health insurance to provide a trillion dollars in tax breaks primarily for insurance companies and other corporations and for some of the very richest Americans.”

Congressman Dave Trott released the following statement on his website:

“Since coming to Congress, I have been committed to replacing the Affordable Care Act with common-sense solutions that give every Michigan family access to affordable, high-quality care.  I believe the verdict on the Affordable Care Act was rendered last November and Michigan voters made it clear they want to see a new direction for our nation’s health care system. While this legislation is not perfect, I believe it is better approach than was taken by the Affordable Care Act.  My viewpoint is reflected in the words of one of my constituents from Livonia, who recently told me, ‘health insurance, right now, is more in need of reform than ever.’ With individual premiums expected to be hit with another double digit increase, Michigan families cannot afford to wait.”

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