While most Republican members of the Florida delegation have stayed silent on the American Health Care Act (AHCA), U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan’s, R-Wisc., effort to repeal and replace former President Barack Obama’s health-care law, on Tuesday, two GOP members of the Sunshine State’s delegation came out against the proposal.
U.S. Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, R-Fla., the former head of the House Foreign Affairs Committee and currently the chairwoman of the House Middle East and North Africa Subcommittee, announced that she would vote against the AHCA unless there were major changes to it.
“After studying the impact of this proposed legislation on my district and speaking with many of my constituents, I have decided to vote no on the bill as currently written,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “The bill’s consequences for South Florida are clear: too many of my constituents will lose insurance and there will be less funds to help the poor and elderly with their health-care.”
The South Florida Republican also insisted she did not like the law Obama signed.
“I voted to repeal Obamacare many times because it was not the right fix for our broken health-care system and did not live up to its promise to the American people but this plan is not the replacement South Florida needs,” Ros-Lehtinen said. “We should work together to write a bipartisan bill that works for our community and our nation without hurting the elderly and disadvantaged among us.”
Ros-Lehtinen was not the only Florida Republican to come out against the proposal on Tuesday. Appearing on the PBS Newshour with Judy Woodruff, U.S. Rep. Ted Yoho, R-Fla., the vice-chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said he could not support the bill as it currently is.
“My reservations are many,” Yoho told Woodruff. “I like the direction we’re moving in, but I could not support the bill as it is right now.”
Yoho pointed to refundable tax credits in the bill as one reason he opposes its current version.
“I’m all in favor of having people keep more of their money,” Yoho said. "I’m in favor of the tax credits, not the refundable ones that go back to buy insurance or go into people’s health savings account. Again, I’m OK with the tax credits where you can write off the cost of your health insurance if you’re an individual, because that’s incentivizing people to do that, which we want them to be, and that’s to be responsible for their health-care.”
“Do you think this bill could be changed, amended in the direction that your concerns are?” Woodruff asked. “I’m asking because, in the Senate, the concerns seem to be in the other direction. Senator Tom Cotton, Republican from Arkansas, is saying he is worried that the bill doesn’t cover enough people who need care. In other words, the pushes and pull seem to be in the other direction.”
“No, I think this bill will get amended,” Yoho said. “I think you will have a product that comes out of the House and the Senate that’s going to fulfill the needs that we’re trying to accomplish.And I think we need to all step back for a moment. The Affordable Care Act was full of good intentions, but yet it’s collapsing on its own. And if we did nothing, which the Democrats don’t want us to interfere, if we do nothing, it’s going to collapse, and all these people that are on that are going to lose insurance. Our goal is to make sure everybody has access to health-care, that it’s an affordable health care, but, more importantly, it’s quality health care. With the Affordable Care Act, what’s happened is, all these people have been running to Medicaid, and it’s been proven over and over again Medicaid has the worst outcomes in the industrialized world as far as the quality of health care. And this is not a way to go just to say we have health insurance, but it’s not good health insurance. We want quality health insurance that the American industries, the American health care providers can provide, I feel, better than anywhere else in the world.”
“But, Congressman, there are a number of Republican senators who are concerned about the loss of Medicaid coverage,” Woodruff said.
“Well, again, I look five to 10 years down the road. If we don’t fix the underlying problems now, there’s going to be a lot of people without basic coverage and needs,” Yoho said. “I mean, they’re talking about cutting Social Security 25 percent across the board within 12 years. Nobody wants that. And so, if we don’t get these things right and make the proper reforms now in the mandatory spending, this is going to be a disaster five to 10 years down the road for all Americans. So, let’s get this right.”
Yoho said he was looking forward to the House Freedom Caucus meeting with President Donald Trump, who supports Ryan’s proposal, later this week. The North Florida Republican also noted that he has been targeted by a Republican group that supports the AHCA.
So far, two Republicans in the Florida delegation have rallied behind the AHCA. U.S. Rep. Gus Bilirakis, R-Fla., who sits on the House Energy and Commerce Committee which has shaped the AHCA, has taken to the House floor in support of it. U.S. Rep. Carlos Curbelo, R-Fla., has also gone to bat for the proposal.
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