The U.S. House of Representatives voted Thursday afternoon to approve a Republican-led plan that would eliminate many of the provisions of the Affordable Care Act. This marks a victory for Republican lawmakers — who have long vowed to repeal and replace President Obama’s signature health care law — and for President Trump.
With the 217-213 vote, the measure now goes to the Senate, where it is expected to undergo intense debate and major revision.
Under the Affordable Care Act, insurers were forbidden from increasing costs or denying coverage to people with pre-existing conditions. But under the GOP replacement bill, states would be able to apply for waivers that would allow insurers to set premiums based on individuals’ medical backgrounds.
There are more than 880,000 non-elderly Kentuckians with pre-existing conditions.
The plan would also repeal Obamacare’s subsidies that helped people buy insurance and replace them with less generous tax credits based on age.
Following the vote, Democratic Congressman John Yarmuth issued a statement in which he accused House Republicans of forcing the measure through passage:
“Now that House Republicans have recklessly rushed this legislation through without any hearings or analysis, I trust that the American people will come to the same conclusion that our nation’s doctors, nurses, hospitals, patient advocates, and seniors groups have all reached: this bill weakens healthcare protections for most Americans and leaves families worse off. I hope people will continue to make their voices heard and communicate their discontent to their Senators as this irresponsible legislation moves forward.”
First District Congressman James Comer, a Republican, voted for the bill. In a statement, he said repealing Obamacare was “critically important for Kentucky”:
“Today, I voted to repeal and replace Obamacare with a health care bill that ends Washington’s failed one-size-fits-all approach to health care, which has left Americans paying more every year for fewer options and with less access to care.”
Sixth District Congressman Andy Barr said Thursday’s vote marked “a great day for freedom in America.”
“Since I first ran for Congress, I promised the people of the Sixth District that I would vote to repeal this broken law and replace it with reforms that will actually lower costs and expand access to care through patient-centered, market-based reforms,” Barr said. “The American Health Care Act accomplishes these goals and more.”
Fourth District Rep. Thomas Massie, also a Republican, voted against the measure. In a lengthy statement issued following the vote, Massie said the bill “runs the risk of destroying what remains of the individual health insurance market”:
“The option in this bill that allows States to apply for waivers from some Obamacare mandates is well-intentioned. However, it falls far short of our promise to repeal Obamacare. There also remains the risk that State legislatures, like our federal legislature, are unable to withstand the political pressure from lobbyists who defend Obamacare, and the pressure from those who receive Obamacare’s welfare handouts.
“This bill should have included measures that allow Americans to take charge of their own healthcare and get the government out of the way. These measures include allowing the deduction of health insurance costs from income taxes, giving everyone the ability to purchase insurance across state lines, and allowing individuals to band together through any organization to purchase insurance.
“In weighing my vote, I heeded the wise advice that “one should not let the perfect be the enemy of the good.” If this bill becomes law, it could result in worse outcomes, fewer options, and higher prices for Kentuckians who seek health care. In summary, I voted against this bill not because it’s imperfect, but because it’s not good.”
Indiana 9th Congressional District Rep.Trey Hollingsworth voted also voted in favor of the bill. Hollingsworth, a Republican, said the AHCA “was built upon the foundation of conservative principles.”
“Today, the American people’s goal of repealing Obamacare took physical form,” he said.
The bill will now move on to the Senate, where its fate is far from certain. In a statement, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell called Thursday’s vote an “important step” in rolling back the ACA.
“We are now closer to giving our constituents freedom from the increased costs, diminishing choices, and broken promises of Obamacare,” McConnell said. “I want to congratulate Speaker Ryan, his leadership team, the Republicans who supported this legislation, and President Trump and Vice President Pence for a job well done.”
This story will be updated.