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Thursday, July 18, 2019  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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News >  Washington

Washington representatives pledge to find solution

UPDATED: Sat., March 25, 2017, 4:26 p.m.

U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler shakes hands with people looking for jobs during the Getting Southwest Washington Back to Work Job Fair in Vancouver, Wa., in 2011. Herrera Beutler said that she ultimately could not vote for the GOP’s health care bill, siting concerns for the old and the young. (Rick Bowmer / AP)
U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler shakes hands with people looking for jobs during the Getting Southwest Washington Back to Work Job Fair in Vancouver, Wa., in 2011. Herrera Beutler said that she ultimately could not vote for the GOP’s health care bill, siting concerns for the old and the young. (Rick Bowmer / AP)
By Mike Bowder Tribune News Service

One of the votes House leaders were unable to secure Friday was U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, who announced she could not support the American Health Care Act Thursday over concerns about the impact the bill would have on children’s hospitals, the poor and the elderly.

Herrera Beutler did not issue a statement after a planned vote on the AHCA was scuttled Friday, but her statement Thursday said she is still committed to repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act “with health care solutions that better serve all residents of Southwest Washington.”

The Camas Republican said the replacement bill fell short of that promise and did not include an amendment she had written to strengthen the Medicaid safety net for children.

“Protecting vulnerable children is a core purpose of the Medicaid program, and when the program fails to do so, it fails entirely,” Herrera Beutler said. “I will not vote to let those kids fall through the cracks.”

In Clark County, more than 58,000 children are enrolled in the state Medicaid plan, Apple Health.

“In the final analysis, this bill falls short. We can’t give up on replacing Obamacare with a solution that provides affordable, high-quality health care to all Americans,” she said. “I will remain active and engaged at every step until Congress gets this right.”

U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, on Friday called the AHCA’s defeat as a victory that will “make all the difference in the lives of patients, families, and seniors nationwide.”

“I am so grateful to the millions of people who spoke up, not just for themselves but for friends and neighbors – for access to Medicaid and Planned Parenthood, and for a country that works to make sure all families have affordable, quality health care,” Murray said in a statement issued after the House bill was pulled from consideration. “Today shows just how powerful your voices are.”

Murray pledged to be vigilant defending “against continuing efforts to put the interests of insurance companies and the wealthy ahead of patients’ health and welfare.”

“I fear that while Trumpcare was dealt a significant blow today, the terrible ideas that underpin it will live on with Republicans in Congress and the White House,” Murray’s statement said. “I hope that Republicans will learn from this, and instead, put people over partisan politics and work with us to build on the Affordable Care Act and make health care even more affordable, more accessible and higher quality.”

Democratic state lawmakers said the AHCA’s failure was good news for Washington residents, according to a statement released Friday afternoon.

“We’ve been preparing for the worst at the state level, drafting legislation to help backfill losses in coverage if the ACA is repealed, and urging our state’s congressional delegation to do whatever they can to preserve coverage for Washingtonians,” said state Sen. Annette Cleveland, D-Vancouver, the ranking member on the Senate Health Care Committee. “If Congress is unable to repeal and replace the ACA, a lot of very vulnerable Washingtonians will be able to breathe a huge sigh of relief.”

Democrat Mike Kreidler, the state’s insurance commissioner, criticized the AHCA as a “shoddy proposal with an unprecedented lack of transparency” that ignored the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office findings that the bill would eliminate health coverage for 24 million Americans, including 700,000 Washington residents.

“Now that Republicans have admitted defeat in their attempts to overturn Obamacare, we have time to make thoughtful, data-driven improvements to our current law,” Kreidler said. “We can move forward in a bipartisan way, using sound insurance principles to make meaningful reforms. These include tackling rising out-of-pocket costs for medical services and reducing the rising costs of prescription drugs.”

On Friday, Cathy McMorris Rodgers posted a statement on Facebook: “Although I’m disappointed we couldn’t find consensus on how to repeal and replace Obamacare, I’m optimistic about the agenda House Republicans have proposed. I’m eager to continue work on the many issues that are important to people in Eastern Washington and around the country, like lowering taxes and putting the people back at the center of our government.”

The same day, Rep. Raúl Labrador, R-Idaho, released the following statement after House Leadership canceled the scheduled:

“The people of Idaho’s First District sent me to Congress to repeal and replace Obamacare because of its disastrous impact on America’s health care system. I promised my constituents that I would help lead the fight against Obamacare at every opportunity. I would have loved to vote for a bill today that actually repealed and replaced Obamacare. But the American Health Care Act was not that bill. The AHCA would have actually protected Obamacare – trimming it on the margins to keep it alive for a few more years. It was a flawed bill, and its moment has passed.”

“We must keep our promise to the American people to end Obamacare. It’s more important to do it right than to do it fast.”

The Spokesman-Review’s Lindsey Treffry contributed to this report.

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