Despite warnings from President Donald Trump of political consequences, two local Republicans say they oppose a revised version of a GOP leadership health care plan that would replace the 2010 law known as Obamacare.
With the House scheduled to vote as early as Thursday on the GOP bill, Reps. Jim Jordan of Urbana and Warren Davidson of Troy are part of a bloc of more than 20 conservative House Republicans who have the power to kill the measure if they all vote against it.
Trump met privately on Capitol Hill Tuesday with House Republicans just hours after House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., unveiled a handful of changes designed to boost chances of the bill’s passage and send it to the Senate. But Jordan said the new version “doesn’t change anything.”
Davidson, who holds the seat once occupied by former House Speaker John Boehner, R-West Chester Twp., also said he is leaning against the bill, and that he knows of enough people who are voting no “that I assume it would not pass.”
The original House GOP bill would scrap federal requirements under Obamacare that small companies offer health insurance and instead offer a refundable tax credit ranging from $2,000 a year to $4,000 a year to allow individuals to buy insurance.
In addition, the bill would scale back a feature of Obamacare that allowed Gov. John Kasich to use hundreds of millions of dollars from Medicaid to provide health coverage to roughly 700,000 low-income people in Ohio. The original bill would provide states with a capped federal contribution for each beneficiary based on how much the state spent on health care in 2016.
But with lawmakers worried that the $4,000 refundable tax credit would not be enough to allow people in their early 60s to afford health insurance, Ryan suggested that once the House passes the bill, the Senate could increase the amount of the credit.
In addition, Ryan’s revisions give states permission to put a work requirement on Medicaid for able-bodied adults and also give states the option to use block grants for Medicaid funding.
The new version also would kill the tax increases on wealthy investors this year instead of next year and delay until 2026 a tax imposed on health insurance companies which provide expensive plans — the so-called Cadillac tax.
According to those who attended Tuesday’s meeting, Trump essentially told wavering Republicans they either were with him or against them. He singled out by name Rep. Mark Meadows, R-N.C., a conservative ally of Jordan.
But Jordan was not swayed by Trump’s warnings. “Does it repeal Obamacare? No,” Jordan complained. “Will it lower premiums? No. Everyone knows that …Does it unite Republicans? No.”
Davidson said the House GOP version is “a better product than Obamacare, but it is not what we told voters they were getting.” He said he is concerned about the insurance regulations and the essential benefits offered in the plan, saying “you’re serving the same lunch and fighting about who’s going to pick up the tab.” He said consumers need to have more options.
Most of the lawmakers who plan to vote no “worked hard to see our president elected,” Davidson said, adding that the Democrats who went along with the arm-twisting from their leaders when Obamacare was passed ended up paying a price politically.
“The only thing that’s happened to them since then is they’ve lost elections,” he said.
Rep. Steve Chabot, R-Cincinnati, said he leans toward supporting the bill.
“I think it’d be disastrous if this thing failed when we have passed a repeal so many times when it didn’t really matter,” he said. “This is when it really does matter. We’re shooting with real bullets, as they say, and if we failed, it would be embarrassing, disastrous and most importantly bad for the country.”
Opposition in the House isn’t the only challenge the bill faces.
Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, said he is happy that the new bill carves out a pot of money that the Senate could use to help those in the 50- to 64-year age range pay for higher premiums.
But he said he’s worried that people on expanded Medicaid will lose coverage, including those who use it for drug treatment.
“I think based on my conversations with my colleagues there will likely be further changes before it passes the Senate should it be passed in the House,” he said.
Democrats are unmoved. Columbus Democratic Rep. Joyce Beatty said the new bill “is further endangering the health and well-being of our country’s most vulnerable citizens — all to win support for Republican-care from the far-right.
“Republicans would be better served to work with Democrats to improve and strengthen the Affordable Care Act, just like we have done for more than 50 years with Medicare,” she said.
Ryan’s revisions are likely to reduce the deficit reduction figures projected last week by the Congressional Budget Office. The CBO said the bill would reduce the deficit by $337 billion during the next decade.
“There are a lot of moving pieces here,” said Marc Goldwein, head of policy at the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget. “But it looks like the deficit reduction will be cut roughly in half.”
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