The United States House of Representatives voted 217 to 213 to pass the Advance the American Health Care Act (AHCA). Some of the feedback from Georgia’s Congressional delegation are below and after the break.
Rep. Drew Ferguson (R, GA-3)
“This legislation is just the first step towards creating a patient-centered, market-driven health care system,” said Ferguson. “With today’s vote, I kept my promise to Third District residents to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and build a health care system that works for everyone. These reforms will allow the marketplace to drive down costs and increase options. This bill ensures that those with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied coverage, and that our safety net is strengthened and preserved for the most vulnerable. By empowering Americans to make their own health care decisions, we protect the all-important conversation between patients and their doctors. By cutting onerous regulations and taxes we promote economic growth for our nation.”
The AHCA includes a number of reforms to the health care system including:
- Repealing the individual and employer mandates created by the ACA.
- Doubling the cap on how much individuals can contribute to their personal Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) each year and expanding where these dollars can be used.
- Returning power to the states with the biggest entitlement reform in a generation, putting Medicaid on a budget and focusing funds on those most in need, like children, the elderly and blind and disabled Americans.
- Ensures that those with pre-existing conditions cannot be denied insurance coverage and includes additional funding to ensure access to affordable coverage for all Americans, regardless of health status.
Rep. Ferguson also voted on H.R. 2192, which would ensure that members of Congress and congressional staff are not exempt from the state waiver provisions of the AHCA.
“Members of Congress should not receive any special treatment under the law,” said Ferguson.
Rep. John Lewis (D, GA-5):
“Today we are facing a crossroads in the history of this nation. One day our children and our children’s children may turn to us and ask, “Which side were you on?” In the aftermath of this vote, members of the House will have to look their constituents, their friends, their family and even their children in the eyes and tell them the painful truth.
“The House Republican bill, H.R. 1628, does not rescue health care. It is an attack on the poor, the sick, the elderly and the disabled. It punishes hard-working women and men, and it uses their resources collected in the federal Treasury as a pipeline to line the pockets of big business and the wealthiest people in the world.
“Never ever in my years in the U.S. House of Representatives have I seen such a betrayal of the public trust. Never have I seen legislative action that reveals such clear disdain for the human dignity of the most vulnerable among us. Never have I ever seen such a willingness to disregard what is right in favor of what is so wrong.
“People from all around the country begged their elected representatives to vote against this despicable bill. Instead, my colleagues chose to serve themselves and their rich friends and leave the rest of us to fend for ourselves. H.R. 1628 proves this White House ushered in a government of the rich, by the rich, for big business, and people will pay with their lives for it.
“If this bill becomes law, at least 24 million Americans who can see their doctors today will be turned away tomorrow. Those who are sick will suffer, and some of them will die. People with pre-existing conditions will have premiums so high most will not be able to afford care, and any state can deny healthcare to their citizens at any time.
“This is a shame and a disgrace. May God have mercy on us all.”
Rep. Rob Woodall (R, GA-7):
“It is a reality that Obamacare health care plans are failing and insurers are leaving the exchanges,” said Rep. Woodall. “Premiums for the few plans that remain are skyrocketing under the current broken system put in place by Obamacare, and deductibles are often so high that families are effectively left without insurance altogether. Tens of millions more Americans have been left without any coverage whatsoever. We can do better, but we must act quickly before more families are harmed. This bill represents a thoughtful plan to keep the good ideas from the past, but also to start eliminating failed and damaging ones. Repairing the damage done by Obamacare will be a long journey, but it begins today. The U.S. Senate now must act. As Obamacare failures continue to mount and families continue to be left stranded, I know that the Senate will move with urgency and send these solutions to the President’s desk.”
Rep. Doug Collins (R, GA-9):
“For seven years, I have watched Obamacare afflict my neighbors with soaring insurance costs and narrowing health care options. Obamacare shattered the insurance market, and Americans now struggle first to afford insurance and then to find providers that accept it.
“Obamacare saddled businesses and individuals with mandates that robbed them of their freedom to choose health care options that make sense for them. Our families, our workers and our economy have born the weight of bureaucratized medicine for too long. The American Health Care Act removes that burden and demands compassion for both the healthy and vulnerable, the born and the unborn.
“I have seen the grief that Obamacare has brought to northeast Georgians and have worked for my entire tenure in Congress to repeal this destructive law. Republicans promised to repeal Obamacare, and the House voted to keep that promise today. I agree with the President’s call this week for us to repeal Obamacare now, and I look forward to the Senate’s getting to work on this crucial bill.”
Rep. Jody Hice (R, GA-10):
“Hardworking Americans can no longer bear the high cost of health care in our country, and the time for relief is now. The AHCA promotes policies that will lower health care premiums, stabilize the insurance markets, improve the quality of care, and increase consumer choice, while continuing to provide affordable coverage for those with pre-existing conditions.
“The AHCA is not perfect, but repairing the damage of Obamacare, lowering costs, and protecting people with pre-existing conditions is critical to the future of this country, and this legislation is a strong first step. The latest amendment, which dedicates an additional $8 billion to reduce costs for patients with pre-existing conditions, strengthens that commitment. Today’s passage of the AHCA is only the beginning of a long legislative process to fully repeal Obamacare and its harmful policies, which have proven to be disastrous for our health care system. I am proud to be at the forefront of this fight and follow through on the promises we’ve made to the American people.”
Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R, GA-11):
“For seven years, Americans have lived through the reality that government bureaucracy – with its massive rules and regulations – is not the answer to ensuring Americans have access to quality health care. The Affordable Care Act (ACA) promised affordable health insurance and access to health care for everyone, but the result has been the exact opposite. Ronald Reagan best described the dangers of government bureaucracy as, ‘In this present crisis, government is not the solution to our problem; government is the problem.’
“Today the House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act (AHCA), which begins the process of dismantling the bureaucratic red-tape that has forced premiums to skyrocket and made deductibles so high that many Americans found their insurance so costly it was unusable. This bill in itself doesn’t fix the entire problem, but it begins the process of fixing our broken health care system.”
Rep. Rick Allen (R, GA-12):
“For seven years, Americans have been subject to Obamacare. Premiums have skyrocketed, coverage has dwindled and access to physicians has decreased. Some Georgians in the 12th District have only one choice when it comes to insurance providers—and often not the choice they want. Enough is enough.
Today, I supported the American Health Care Act because President Trump and Congress made a promise to repeal and replace Obamacare. President Trump has said he is behind our efforts 100%, and I am committed to fighting to restore patient-centered, cost-effective and market-driven solutions to our health care system. Simply put, my goal is to have a healthcare system that works for my constituents, and I believe the American Health Care Act is the answer.
I call on my colleagues in the Senate to quickly take up this legislation so that those in Georgia’s 12th district and throughout the country can find relief from the binds of our failing health care system.”
Rep. Tom Graves (R, GA-14):
“The first bill I introduced after I was elected to Congress in 2010 was legislation to defund Obamacare. Over the last seven years we kept fighting, we never gave up, and now we’re finally passing a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare that will hit the desk of a president who will sign it. This is Phase 1 of the President Trump’s three phase healthcare plan. Taken together, the president’s plan will reduce health insurance premiums, increase access to care and put patients first.”
H.R. 1628 includes the MacArthur-Meadows Amendment that gives states additional flexibility by allowing them to apply with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to waive certain federal mandates if the state can prove its plan will benefit consumers.
Speaking of the change, Rep. Graves said: “Importantly, the American Health Care Act continues to protect people with pre-existing conditions from price gouging, and they cannot be denied coverage. What’s new is that each state can take its own approach, as long as there are basic protections and clear benefits, such as increasing enrollment, offering more choices and lowering costs. A lot of work has gone into finding the right balance between lifting federal mandates and protecting Americans with serious health challenges, and I believe this is it.”
President Trump’s healthcare plan has three concurrent phases:
(1) The American Health Care Act, which repeals Obamacare’s taxes and mandates, and replaces them with expanded Health Saving Accounts and age-based tax credits to help low- and middle-income families in the individual market purchase health insurance; additionally, the bill makes significant reforms to Medicaid, such as allowing states to receive federal funds through block grants and pursue work requirements for able-bodied adults without dependents;
(2) Administrative Actions, which Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price will take to eliminate harmful regulations and allow more choice and competition in the health insurance marketplace;
(3) Additional Legislation, to increase competition and expand access to care, including legislation passed by the House in March – the Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act (H.R. 372) and the Small Business Health Fairness Act (H.R. 1101).