WASHINGTON — The American Health Care Act, also known as TrumpCare, was passed Thursday by the House of Representatives by a vote of 217-213.
Following are comments from members of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus about the latest Republican effort to “repeal and replace” Obamacare.
Rep. Judy Chu (D-Pasadena), CAPAC chair: “I am incredibly saddened and outraged that Republicans ignored the expressed opposition from doctors, hospitals, patient advocates, health experts and even members of their own party to pass this heartless bill. It is unconscionable to me that they would charge ahead with – and then celebrate – a vote that they know will force millions off their insurance and raise prices for people with pre-existing conditions.
“Worse, their rush to vote on this bill meant there wasn’t even time for the Congressional Budget Office to score the fiscal and human costs of the final version. The haste to act and then immediately hop on a bus to the White House shows that they were more concerned with helping Trump keep a campaign promise than with actually improving healthcare.
“This bill will have serious consequences for the American people. This bill threatens to kick 7 million veterans off their insurance, shortens the life of Medicare, allows people aged 50-64 to be charged five times more than young people, and eliminates coverage for 24 million Americans, including nearly 2 million Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders across the country.
“It defunds Planned Parenthood for one year, and would once again allow being a rape or domestic violence victim to be a pre-existing condition. This bill creates a ‘women’s tax’ that would permit insurance companies to charge women more than men for essential coverage like pregnancy.
“Trumpcare would also cut $838 billion from Medicaid, endangering care for individuals with disabilities, low-income children, and seniors in nursing homes and long-term care facilities. In the midst of the worst opioid epidemic our nation has ever seen, it rips mental health and addiction services away from those who need it most.
“Trumpcare does all this while giving the 400 richest families in America an annual tax break of $2.8 million.
“As we have said in the past, Democrats remain willing and eager to work to improve the Affordable Care Act. But this was not an improvement. This was a cruel attack on vulnerable Americans, especially those with pre-existing conditions. An improvement is a plan that will increase access for all Americans, keep costs down, and ensure that being sick or a woman or a senior is not an excuse to be denied coverage.”
Rep. Mark Takano (D-Riverside): “Today, I voted against the House Republican bill to repeal the Affordable Care Act. The ACA has been a great help to people in our district. The Republican bill would strip away protections against pre-existing condition discrimination, would slash funding to Medi-Cal, and would even endanger tax subsidies that help veterans across the nation purchase insurance. This bill would raise costs, lower coverage, and harm the solvency of Medicare. It solves none of the problems of the ACA — in fact, it makes every one of them worse.
“Last month, an incredible uprising of voters across the nation derailed the first attempt by House Republicans to repeal the ACA. This week, they slammed the bill through Congress at breakneck speed to avoid allowing the public to speak out against their plans. They think that by pushing this bill to a vote today they have won. But you can prove them wrong.
“The fight to preserve the Affordable Care Act isn’t over yet. Today’s House bill is dead on arrival in the Senate, which means that the road from today’s vote to an eventual law remains a long one. We will have many more chances to stop them in their tracks.
We must keep up our resistance to the Trump/Republican agenda — on health care, on immigration, on climate change, and more. It is hard work, but its impact is real.
“I am proud to be your representative in Washington — and proud to add my voice to yours in this fight. Today, the Republicans had a party in the White House Rose Garden. Tomorrow, we get back to work to ensure that come January 2019 the ACA is still in place and that the House Republicans that voted for it today are out of a job.”
Rep. Doris Matsui (D-Sacramento): “The American people watched as House Republicans and President Trump turned their backs on them today.
“This ACA repeal bill will be devastating for nearly every American family. Parents will have less access to things like pediatric and emergency care. School districts will be forced to ration services for children with disabilities. Millions of Americans will see costs skyrocket if they have a pre-existing condition like cancer, asthma, or mental illness. Americans nearing retirement will pay a crippling age tax and seniors will see the Medicare and Medicaid programs they rely on for health and long term care put at risk.
“With the passage of this bill, millions across the country are now less certain of their future.”
Rep. Colleen Hanabusa (D-Hawaii): “We knew Speaker [Paul] Ryan would never call for a vote on Trumpcare unless they had the votes to win. In the end, it was close with 20 Republicans crossing over to oppose the TrumpCare bill. Nevertheless, the bill passed out of the House and will now head to the Senate.
“What is pathetic is that House Republicans had seven years to work with House Democrats to fashion bipartisan improvements to the ACA. Instead, they waited until President Trump was elected to call for the ‘repeal’ of Obamacare. Succeeding today after one failed attempt, House Republicans celebrated with President Trump at the White House for having killed Obamacare. What they actually did was much worse: House Republicans and President Trump betrayed their constituents. President Trump promised a ‘better’ health care plan with ‘insurance for everybody.’ That is not, however, what TrumpCare provides.
“The House TrumpCare bill will leave an estimated 24 million Americans without health coverage over the next ten years. It will cut billions from Medicaid and transfer ~$600 billion to large corporations and the wealthiest families in this country. TrumpCare forces Americans between 50 and 64 to pay an age tax that will increase their premiums by five times more than what others will pay for the same coverage.
“TrumpCare also steals from the Medicare Trust Fund, shortening the life span of the fund by three years. Premiums and deductibles will also increase, along with out-of-pocket costs. Finally, to secure the passage of TrumpCare the second time around, House Republicans had to agree to allow states the option of waiving ‘Essential Health Benefits’ and the community rating rules, which prevent insurers from charging higher premiums to those with pre-existing conditions. This will make it very difficult, if not impossible, for those with existing health issues to find affordable healthcare coverage.
“Finally, the effect, if any, of the House TrumpCare bill on Hawaii’s Prepaid Health Care Act remains to be seen, largely dependent on what happens in the Senate.
“In closing, I am saddened and dismayed that House Republicans and President Trump, in their eagerness to pass healthcare legislation, would put forth a flawed TrumpCare bill largely opposed by the healthcare industry and then publicly celebrate having been made aware of the impending harm it will cause to millions of Americans. I will now stand with my Democrat House colleagues and fight to stop this flawed TrumpCare bill from passing the Senate.”
Sen. Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii): “Today, I’m thinking of the thousands of Hawaii residents I’ve heard from who are living in fear of losing their insurance and other protections they’ve received thanks to the Affordable Care Act. Constituents like Kathryn, a teacher and single parent, who is afraid of losing her insurance because of a pre-existing condition; and Anne, who gave birth to a healthy baby boy thanks to Medicaid coverage.
“The fight to save the Affordable Care Act in the Senate starts today. I will stand strong to ensure TrumpCare does not undermine Prepaid Health Care and Affordable Care Act protections for Hawaii families.”
Rep. Ted Lieu (D-Los Angeles): “Make no mistake, House Republicans’ latest version of TrumpCare means heart-stopping premium increases for Americans with anything from asthma to cancer. I urge President Trump to just read the bill. Either the president does not understand his own health care plan or he is willingly making false claims about its contents.
“Eviscerating the essential health benefits and protections for pre-existing conditions will make it all but impossible for millions of Americans fighting illness to afford the health coverage they desperately need. TrumpCare means higher costs for less coverage with key protections gutted. It imposes a crushing age tax and steals from Medicare. Instead of trying to dismantle the ACA, I urge my Republican colleagues to work with Democrats to improve it.”
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-Hawaii): “The bill that passed today is not a healthcare bill — it’s a big handout to insurance and pharmaceutical companies. This bill slashes $880 billion from Medicaid, strips away health benefits like maternity care, substance abuse treatment, and mental health services, expands a crippling age tax on our seniors, eliminates healthcare tax credits for over 7 million veterans, and breaks the bank for those with pre-existing conditions. While corporations rake in over $600 billion in tax breaks, many low-income Americans will see their coverage drop completely.
“This partisan bill was rushed through, resulting in corporate benefits on the backs of the people. We need real healthcare reform that brings down costs, increases access to quality care, and ensures basic health services are available to all Americans. As a co-sponsor of H.R.676, the Expanded and Improved Medicare for All Act, I’m working towards a system that will provide universal healthcare to all Americans — a standard met by nearly every other industrialized nation.”
Rep. Grace Meng (D-N.Y.): “This is a bad bill, period. If it is passed, 24 million Americans will lose health insurance, those with pre-existing conditions will face exorbitantly high costs for care, premiums will rise for the middle class, and Medicaid funding will be severely restricted, leaving millions, including individuals with disabilities and pregnant women, without access to life-saving care. I do not understand why this bill is being forced down Americans’ throats, but I will not vote for it.”
Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.): It’s disgraceful that Republicans in Congress just passed a bill that would kick tens of millions of Americans off of their health insurance and force many more to pay higher out-of-pocket costs. Shame on any veteran who voted today to raise taxes on as many as 8 million of their fellow veterans and make it harder for them to afford their healthcare. I will fight this proposal in the Senate tooth and nail to make sure that every one of my brothers and sisters who wore the uniform of this great nation – and every American – is able to receive the care they deserve.”