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Thursday, December 13, 2018  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Eye On Boise

U.S. House passes GOP health care bill; Simpson, Labrador both support it

The U.S. House has voted 217-213 in favor of the Republican health care bill, with no Democrats supporting the bill and 20 Republicans joining the minority to oppose it. Idaho Reps. Mike Simpson and Raul Labrador, both Republicans, both voted in favor. The bill now heads to the Senate, where it’s expected to see changes.

There's a primer on what the House-passed bill would do online here at spokesman.com.

Throughout today’s passionate House debate, Simpson was in the chair presiding. His press secretary, Nikki Wallace, said, “The speaker asked him to preside for the debate and vote. He is very experienced and skilled at managing the floor.” Simpson is a eighth-term congressman and the former speaker of the Idaho House.

Here are Simpson’s and Labrador’s full statements on their votes today:

SIMPSON:

Simpson Supports Obamacare Repeal, Healthcare Reforms

Washington, D.C. - On Thursday, Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson supported the American Health Care Act which passed the House of Representatives by 217-213. The legislation is a repeal and replacement plan for Obamacare.

“I voted against the passage of Obamacare and I have voted to repeal it over 60 times,” said Simpson. “Many members promised the American public that they would repeal and replace Obamacare and this vote is the first step to fulfilling that promise. I believe in keeping my promises.”

Specifically, H.R. 1628 begins the process of replacing Obamacare with provisions that lower premiums and provide more choices for health coverage. The Congressional Budget Office found that premiums will be 10% lower under this legislation. One such mechanism to do this is to provide over $130 billion to Patient and State Stability Funds to lower costs and stabilize insurance markets, including a dedicated fund for states to expand services for mental health, addiction treatment, and further support for patients with pre-existing conditions. The bill also eliminates the most burdensome Obamacare mandates such as the individual mandate, the employer mandate, and numerous tax increases that have driven up health care costs.

“The Affordable Care Act is unsustainable given its current trajectory. The thought of a total collapse in the health care market is simply too dangerous to ignore given the stakes. The question today was to stick with Obamacare or to start the process of fixing our broken health care system.  The American Health Care Act is the only opportunity we have to start that replacement process.  It is not perfect given the limited scope of reconciliation rules, but to fix health care we need to start somewhere.”

The legislation includes an amendment to provide additional support for people with pre-existing conditions. Importantly, states may not – under any circumstance - ever obtain a waiver for pre-existing condition protection, prohibition on gender discrimination,  guaranteed issue and renewability, or for the right of dependents to stay on a family plan up to the age 26.

In March, the House also passed two health care reform bills that will lower costs through increased competition. The Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act is a policy change that Congressman Simpson has long cosponsored and supported.  The legislation would level the playing field by removing the McCarran-Ferguson Act’s federal antitrust exemption for health insurance businesses. Congressman Simpson voted in favor of the Competitive Health Insurance Reform Act which passed by a large bipartisan vote of 416-7.

The Small Business Health Fairness Act would allow small businesses to join together to offer coverage through association health plans thus providing another option for purchasing health insurance and creating competition. The legislation also passed the House with bipartisan support of 236-175.

LABRADOR:

LABRADOR VOTES FOR
AMERICAN HEALTH CARE ACT

“This bill keeps our promise to lower costs and protect the most vulnerable. Our work is far from done, however.”

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rep. Raúl Labrador (R-ID) released the following statement today after voting for the newest version of the American Health Care Act. 

“All across Idaho, families and small business owners are struggling to keep up with skyrocketing health care costs caused by Obamacare. The people of Idaho know Obamacare is a disaster and want it fully repealed. Since I was first elected to Congress, I’ve been working to repeal Obamacare and that includes opposing the first version of the American Health Care Act.

 “Over the last few months, I have been working to improve the AHCA, joining with my colleagues in the House Freedom Caucus. We have negotiated legislation that keeps our promise to the American people to lower health care costs while also protecting those with pre-existing conditions. Furthermore, unlike the first version of AHCA, our bill showed it had enough support to actually pass the House.

“The bill we passed today strikes down Obamacare’s prohibition on less expensive health care plans and the knot of insurance regulations and mandates that are making health coverage so unaffordable. Meanwhile, it sets up a national $130 billion invisible high-risk pool to help offset the cost for those with pre-existing conditions.  

“The Democrats keep insisting the AHCA will eliminate coverage for those with pre-existing conditions. That’s not true, and it’s not the first time the Democrats haven’t told the truth about Obamacare. When they said Obamacare would lower health insurance premiums, it wasn’t true. When they said ‘if you like your health care plan, you can keep your plan,’ it wasn’t true. When they said Obamacare would lower out-of-pocket expenses, it wasn’t true. If they didn’t tell the truth about everything else, why should anyone believe them now about pre-existing conditions?

“Our work is far from done, however. We need to fully repeal Obamacare and I remain committed to doing that. Today’s bill is the best way to eventually get there.”




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Betsy Z. Russell
Betsy Z. Russell joined The Spokesman-Review in 1991. She currently is a reporter in the Boise Bureau covering Idaho state government and politics, and other news from Idaho's state capital.

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