It’s not hard to guess that the attempt by the White House to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act has run into opposition from House Democrats who have stood in opposition to President Trump’s version of a healthcare overhaul. But on Friday it got to a point where voices were raised and tempers flared in a morning meeting of the Rules Committee.
In an exchange with GOP Rep. Greg Walden of Oregon, Rep. Alcee Hastings, a Florida Democrat became frustrated with the proposal and the amendments offered since it failed to get the necessary Republican votes to pass on Thursday.
Say it loud, Congressman.
— Greg Hogben (@MyDaughtersArmy) March 24, 2017
“I’m mad as hell about what you all are doing!” the Hastings shouted, focusing on how the bill could help the wealthy and disenfranchise the poor. “And I don’t have to be nice to nobody [sic] when you’re being nasty to poor people.”
Republicans moved their healthcare plan toward a vote in the House on Friday despite being unsure if they had the number of votes for the measure to pass. The party is trying to line up votes from its members who feel the bill is inadequate in taking care of the nation’s healthcare needs. Many have been in support of getting rid of the ACA, but have demanded that it be replaced with something better.
Republicans can lose only 22 votes in the face of united Democratic opposition. A tally by The Associated Press found at least 32 “no” votes, but the figure was subject to fluctuation amid frantic GOP lobbying.
The Republican bill would eliminate the Obama statute’s unpopular fines on those who do not obtain coverage and the often generous subsidies for those who purchase insurance. Instead, consumers would face a 30 percent premium penalty if they let coverage lapse.
Republican tax credits would be based on age, not income like Obama’s subsidies, and tax boosts Obama imposed on higher-earning people and health care companies would be repealed. The bill would end Obama’s Medicaid expansion and trim future federal financing for the federal-state program, let states impose work requirements on some of its 70 million beneficiaries.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has said the Republican bill would result in 24 million additional uninsured people in a decade and lead to higher out-of-pocket medical costs for many lower-income and people just shy of age 65, when they become eligible for Medicare.
Obama’s law increased coverage through subsidized private insurance for people without workplace coverage, and letting states expand Medicaid for low-income residents. More than 20 million people have gained coverage since the law was passed.
GOP aides were privately saying conservative opposition was softening, yet another moderate announced he would oppose the legislation. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, of New Jersey, chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, said the bill “would place significant new costs and barriers to care on my constituents.”
With reporting by The Associated Press