The GOP health care replacement bill could head to the House floor as early as next week, but does it have the votes to pass?
Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the number four ranking Republican in the U.S. House, tells KING 5 the health care bill has the votes.
“This is our moment; it’s now or never. We have to move on it, and we have to move on it now,” Rep. McMorris Rodgers (R-5th District) told KING 5. “The Affordable Care Act is failing. When you look at the projections for 2017, we’re going to see more premium increases, we’re going to see less plans. One out of three counties in America only have one plan available.”
However, Washington is one of the states where the Affordable Care Act has worked best, enrolling more than 750,000 individuals since passing, according to the State’s Insurance Commissioner. The rate of uninsured dropped by 58%, according to his statistics.
According to new calculations by the Insurance Commissioners Office, 600,000 fewer individuals would be insured under the Republicans’ “American Health Care Act,” starting in 2020. That number reflects the loss of the Medicaid expansion under the replacement plan.
“It is a disaster for Washington,” said Democratic Governor Jay Inslee on Wednesday who indicated he plans to reach out to members of Washington’s delegation and persuade them to vote against the bill.
“I think you’re seeing developing in our nation’s capitol, buyers remorse that’s kicking in pretty quickly,” Governor Inslee told reporters on a conference call.
A Congressional Budget Office report released this week estimates 24 million fewer will be uninsured over the next decade nationwide, potentially hitting low-income Americans hardest.
“The CBO score doesn’t tell the whole story. It doesn’t take into account future actions that we will be taking that will lower costs and increase the coverage options,” countered Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers.
McMorris Rodgers stressed that current Medicaid expansion recipients will be grandfathered in. Future Medicaid reductions would reduce the federal deficit by $337 billion by 2026, according to CBO.
The report also projects that premiums would decrease starting in 2020; however, notes the changes would differ “significantly” based on age. The analysis indicates older, poorer Americans would see the greatest reductions in coverage and cost increases.
“Under the legislation, insurers would be allowed to generally charge five times more for older enrollees than younger ones rather than three times more as under the current law, substantially reducing premiums for young adults and substantially raising premiums for older people,” reads the report.
“I think as we are able to reduce premiums, increase choices and then bring down health care costs in general, you’re going to see those overall costs come down such that the overall tax credits will be more impactful,” pushed back McMorris Rodgers.
“I’ve heard some people try to defend this by saying there’s some magic pixie potion that the Republicans are going to come up with later on to make this work,” argued Governor Inslee.
“Who could possibly think this was a good idea?” the governor continued. “Well, it’s become clear to me that this is a tax cut for the rich masquerading as a healthcare reform.”
Congresswoman McMorris Rodgers calls that “a wrong assumption,” saying that middle and lower income Americans also saw their taxes increase under the Affordable Care Act.
However, high-income earners would benefit most from savings. Meanwhile, conservative Republicans fault the bill’s “refundable tax credit” proposal as yet another entitlement.
Despite concerns raised by both the conservative wing of the Party, as well as moderate Republicans running for re-election in swing districts in 2018, McMorris Rodgers believe GOP leadership will have the 216 votes needed to pass out of the House.
“I think we’re going to continue to work with members and get to a place where we have the support we need on the floor,” she said.
The bill is scheduled for another markup hearing on Thursday; this time in the Budget Committee.
Meanwhile, House Democrats, unified in opposition, plan to hold a symbolic hearing on Thursday, against the bill.
Washington Insurance Commissioner Mike Kreidler is among the speakers scheduled to testify.