Key Players Give Their Opinions — For And Against — On GOP’s Obamacare Replacement

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After years of railing against the Affordable Care Act and calling for its repeal, and following weeks of secrecy, coyness, and treasure hunts around Capitol Hill, GOP lawmakers have finally proposed this much-awaited legislation. Now that it’s out there, what are folks from all sides of the political spectrum saying?

Repealing the ACA has been a tentpole promise of the Republican party’s political platform since the Obama administration first suggested the law in 2009, so you’d think that most prominent GOP lawmakers would be ecstatic to see an actual repeal plan in the works.

But the reality is more of a mixed bag. While plenty of lawmakers in Washington are tooting their own horns and touting their own bill, the proposal faces significant resistance and opposition from a surprising array of unusual bedfellows, to say the least.

Who’s In Favor?

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Some folks are very happy about any plan to repeal the ACA, especially the folks who proposed the bill. The vast majority of those with statements on the record in favor of the AHCA are members of the House of Representatives or part of the Trump Administration.

A sampling includes:
Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA), House Majority Leader: “Obamacare is a sinking ship, and the legislation introduced today will rescue people from the mistakes of the past.” [New York Times]

Rep. Kevin Brady (R-TX), Ways and Means Committee Chairman;
Rep. Greg Walden (R-OR), Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman:
“Our fiscally responsible plan will lower costs for patients and begin returning control from Washington back to the states, so that they can tailor their health-care systems to their unique communities. The bill will improve access to care and restore the free market, increasing innovation, competition and choice. The legislation provides immediate relief from Obamacare by eliminating the penalties attached to the individual and employer mandates.” [Wall Street Journal]

Rep. Jason Chaffetz (R-UT): “”Well, we’re getting rid of the individual mandate. We’re getting rid of those things that people said that they don’t want … Americans have choices, and they’ve got to make a choice. So rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love and want to go spend hundreds of dollars on that, maybe they should invest in their own health care. They’ve got to make those decisions themselves.” [CNN]

Tom Price, Sec. of Health and Human Services: “On behalf of the Trump Administration, I am writing in support of the reconciliation recommendations recently released for consideration by your Committees. Together, they align with the President’s goal of rescuing Americans from the failures of the Affordable Care Act. These proposals offer patient-centered solutions that will provide all Americans with access to affordable, quality healthcare, promote innovation, and offer peace of mind for those with pre-existing conditions.” [Letter (PDF)]

Blue Cross Blue Shield: “We appreciate the work that the administration and Congress have undertaken so far to begin stabilizing the individual market, and we are very pleased that the House bill envisions providing a smooth transition for consumers in 2018 and 2019, including making coverage more affordable by eliminating the tax on health insurance policies.” [Politico]

Who’s Opposed?

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The pool of opposition, particularly from politicians and think tanks, splits into two general camps.

There’s the “goes too far” faction, and “doesn’t go too far enough” one. Basically, one school of opposition says that the ACHA will hurt individuals, business, and/or the economy by repealing the ACA. The other school says that the ACHA doesn’t do nearly enough to get the federal government out of the healthcare business.

Republicans In Opposition

Rep. Justin Amash (R-MI): “The new Republican plan does not repeal/replace Obamacare; it repackages Obamacare. It’s a political plan that signals retreat and will not reduce health care costs.” [Facebook statement]

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH): “My guess is this bill looks a lot like the last one, and we didn’t like the last one… There’s this one, which I think in many ways is Obamacare by just a different format, and then there’s our plan, which I think is the one that’s entirely consistent with what the voters expected and what we told them we were going to do.” [CNN]

Rep. Mark Meadows (R-NC): “Conservatives don’t want new taxes, new entitlements and an “ObamaCare Lite” bill. If leadership insists on replacing ObamaCare with ObamaCare-lite, no repeal will pass. Nobody wants ObamaCare repealed more than we do. We think the only way to repeal ObamaCare is to separate repeal from replace. ObamaCare provisions dressed up in shiny new GOP-branded clothes would mean the loss of too many conservative votes for passage.” [Fox News]

Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT): “This is not the Obamacare repeal bill we’ve been waiting for. It is a missed opportunity and a step in the wrong direction.” [Statement]

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY): “The House leadership plan is Obamacare Lite. It will not pass. Conservatives are not going to take it.” [Twitter]

Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO), Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK): “The Affordable Care Act destabilized the private insurance market and created an unsustainable path for both the states and the federal government in Medicaid. While we support efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and make structural reforms to the Medicaid program, we are concerned that the February 10th draft proposal from the House of Representatives does not provide stability and certainty for individuals and families in Medicaid expansion programs or the necessary flexibility for states. … We are concerned that any poorly implemented or poorly timed change in the current funding structure in Medicaid could result in a reduction in access to life-saving health care services. The Medicaid population includes a wide range of beneficiaries, many of which cycle on and off Medicaid due to frequent changes in income, family situations, and living environments.” [Letter]

Democratic Politicians

Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA), House Minority Leader: “Republicans revealed a Make America Sick Again bill that hands billionaires a massive new tax break while shifting huge costs and burdens onto working families across America. Republicans will force tens of millions of families to pay more for worse coverage – and push millions of Americans off of health coverage entirely. … This Republican bill will do massive damage to millions of families across the nation. Republicans have decided that affordable health care should be the privilege of the wealthy, not the right of every family in America. Without a CBO score to reveal the catastrophic consequences of their Make America Sick Again bill, Republicans must not move forward with a committee vote.” [Statement]

Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-MD), House Minority Whip: “President Trump promised that the Republican plan would ‘have insurance for everybody’ that is ‘far less expensive and far better.’ Instead, the legislation unveiled tonight would kick millions of Americans off their health coverage and force millions to pay more for less. Furthermore, their legislation raids the Medicare trust fund, threatening its long-term solvency.” [Statement]

Think Tanks & Pundits

Americans for Prosperty, Freedom Partners: “The bill currently under consideration in the House does not repeal the elements that made Obamacare so devastating to American families, and we cannot support it. … As the bill stands to say, it is Obamacare 2.0. Passing it would [be] making the same mistake that President Obama, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi made in 2010.” [Letter (PDF)]

Politico reports that a number of conservative organizations — FreedomWorks, Heritage Action, Club for Growth also oppose the current bills.

Consumer/Public Interest Groups

AARP: “We do not want to go back to pre-ACA days when people couldn’t afford their premiums.” “You’re both jacking up the prices and giving people less of a subsidy, which is a damaging combination.” [MSN Money, Vox]

ACLU: “This week, the House will mark up a bill that would decimate the Affordable Care Act and could leave millions of Americans uninsured. As if that weren’t destructive enough, it also contains language that would “defund” Planned Parenthood health centers. Taken together, these two actions would devastate access to health care generally, and reproductive health care in particular.” [Statement]

Consumers Union: “If the goal of this legislation was actually to improve access to care and drive down costs, they completely missed the mark. This legislation would leave millions of Americans unable to purchase insurance, and leave those who are able to with paltry coverage. This so-called ‘replacement plan’ makes it highly unlikely that those with pre-existing conditions would be able to afford any plans that provide the meaningful coverage they need. It would also lower the threshold for coverage levels, allowing insurers to sell plans that will likely cost consumers more and provide them less.” [Statement]

Business, Industry, and Trade Groups

American Nurses Association: Has “concerns over a number of key provisions in this legislation, including the wind-down of Medicaid expansion, impact on access to affordable care through subsidies and lack of explicit protection for patients with pre-existing conditions.” [Politico]

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