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After weeks of intense negotiations, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a Republican bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act by a narrow margin of 217-213. All Democrats and 20 of their Republican counterparts voted against passage.
The sloppily drafted bill’s future was up in the air until the final seconds of the vote as Republicans, vulnerable in the mid-term elections, wavered before casting their vote. The bill passed the threshold by a single vote.
A majority of American voters have said they did not want the Republican repeal of the healthcare law, and Democratic Representatives were quick to point out that Republican Representatives betrayed the trust of their constituents. But, Republicans say that they are fulfilling a promise to the American people by the repeal and replace bill.
Nancy Pelosi, the Minority Leader in the House called the vote of her Republican counterparts a cowardly choice, and said, “They have this tattooed on them.”
The House did not wait for the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Review before voting on the legislation. The prior prior review estimated that 24 million people are likely to lose insurance under the new Trump Care package. Many of the Republican Representatives admitted that they didn’t even read the act that they voted to pass.
The AARP Vice President likened the bill as an “Age Tax” on the elderly, saying the bill would cause older Americans to pay thousands and thousands of extra dollars for their healthcare, or risk losing it altogether.
The American College of Physicians are at odds with the bill’s provisions that will allow insurance companies to quit covering benefits such as cancer screening, maternal and mental health care. They also pointed to the cuts and caps to Medicaid expansion that will leave many millions without any coverage.
The National Education Foundation said that the new healthcare act will not deliver less expensive health care, but will merely give massive tax cuts to the rich at the expense of the 24 million who will lose coverage.
Amanda Ballantyne director of Main Street Alliance called the passage of the bill “a shameful display of partisan politics at its worst.”
Alaska’s sole Representative, Don Young voted for the passage of the repeal and replace bill. He said in a statement, “Although this bill is far from perfect, I have made the very serious decision to move this process forward.”
In reaction to today’s vote, Alaska’s Governor Bill Walker said ““This bill could be a game-changer for Alaska. Our state would be the most negatively affected if the proposed legislation is signed into law as is. Alaskans already pay the highest health care premiums in the country. Affordable health care coverage is critical to provide necessary treatment resources to address the opioid epidemic in Alaska. My team and I will continue working with members of our Congressional Delegation to ensure Alaskans are protected and covered.”
The House’s version of the American Healthcare Act now goes to the Senate, where it is expected that it will not remain intact.