The American Health Care Act — the Republican effort to repeal and replace much of former President Obama’s signature healthcare law — is one step closer to becoming law after approval by a sharply divided House of Representatives Thursday.
The controversial bill, an earlier version of which failed to gain support in March, passed the House on a 217-213 vote, mostly along party lines. Twenty Republicans crossed the aisle to oppose the bill, while no Democrats voted in favor.
One of the House Republicans who has strongly supported the bill is freshman Congressman Matt Gaetz, who represents Northwest Florida.
“Today, I voted in favor of The American Health Care Act — a bill that will make health insurance more accessible and more affordable for people across America,” Gaetz said in a statement after the vote. “For too many Americans, the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, has been anything but affordable. Premiums have soared, coverage has plummeted, and insurers are leaving the market in droves, making a dire situation even worse. States have been robbed of their rights, and the economy has been smothered: small businesses cannot afford to grow, large businesses cannot afford to expand, and it continues to expand our out-of-control national debt with alarming speed.”
President Trump, who supports the bill, promised on the campaign trail that Republicans would pass a bill that would make insurance more available and more affordable, and that no one would lose their existing coverage. The Congressional Budget Office, however, has estimated some 24 million people would lose insurance coverage by 2026 as a result of the bill. Trump also pledged during the campaign not to cut Medicare or Medicaid; the CBO’s analysis said the GOP healthcare bill would cut Medicaid by $880 billion over ten years.
A few of Obamacare’s popular features, though, would survive under the new healthcare law, including the provision that allows young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance plan through age 26.
“Obamacare is heading off a cliff,” said Gaetz. “If we did nothing, disaster would have been imminent. I voted for The American Health Care Act because I do not want to see hard-working Americans unable to afford coverage. I do not want our elderly and our sick to struggle under the burden of unaffordable, low-quality coverage. I do not want to crush our small businesses — the engine of American economic growth. What I want is freedom: freedom for individuals to pick the policies they want, freedom for states to operate with flexibility, and freedom of choice — because when people can choose between many different insurance providers, costs will be lower and quality will be higher. Under The American Health Care Act, insurance coverage will be better and less expensive — not just for the young and healthy, but for the elderly, and for people with pre-existing conditions as well.”
The bill now heads to the Senate, where it’s likely significant changes will be made to the bill and where the GOP’s narrow majority means that the bill will have to win support from nearly all Senate Republicans.
“The long nightmare of Obamacare is ending,” Gaetz added. “I am proud to have voted for The American Health Care Act, which is a step forward for all Americans.”