The vote on the American Healthcare Act is a very tough decision. As the Representative of the First District of Oklahoma, my philosophy has been to fight for the most conservative option possible, and I often vote “No” to get to a “better Yes”. Today, I decided the American Healthcare Act is the best “Yes” that the House is able to accomplish legislatively at this time. Conservatives worked very hard to improve this bill, and while we hoped for a better bill, this is a dramatic improvement over Obamacare.
Obamacare is collapsing on itself with massive increases in premiums and deductibles so high that some families are effectively uninsured. Many states have lost health insurance providers where companies cannot afford to offer Obamacare-compliant policies. A third of all counties, including every county in Oklahoma, have only one provider on the exchanges this year and another third have only two. Seven years ago, Obamacare took over nearly 20 percent of the U.S. economy, and unwinding that tangled system is extremely complex.
This bill effectively repeals the individual and employer mandates, cuts $1 trillion in taxes, and reduces the deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars over ten years. The bill fundamentally transforms Medicaid from an open-ended and unsustainable entitlement to a State-centered system which caps the Federal contribution and maximizes flexibility for the States. The Medicaid reforms alone will save trillions over the long-term, help move millions of people onto private insurance, and preserve the safety net for the most vulnerable.
Most important to me, this bill prohibits funds from going to the nation’s largest abortion provider, Planned Parenthood, and redirects federal funding to Community Health Centers. This provision alone merits support even though the bill falls short of what conservatives wanted to accomplish.
I am disappointed that this legislation did not include provisions to repeal the Obamacare health insurance regulations which are the root cause of skyrocketing premiums and employers dropping coverage. Fortunately, Tom Price, Secretary of Health and Human Services, will exercise his authority under the law to remove costly Obamacare regulations. I also have great reservations about the bill’s refundable tax credit scheme, which is essentially a different version of the Obamacare subsidy program.
In my judgment though, this is the opening legislative salvo of the Trump Presidency, and we cannot let it fail when we do not have a shot at a better option. Therefore, I will vote “Yes”.