Ohioans protest healthcare bill at Rep. Tiberi’s Columbus office

WASHINGTON, DC (AP) –The Republican replacement health care bill narrowly passed the House 217-213 on Thursday. The bill picked up new life this week with a change designed to combat concerns over coverage for those with pre-existing health problems. The change helped get the bill through the House but experts say it may make little difference in the hunt for affordable coverage for these patients.

The bill proposes setting aside $8 billion over five years to help states cover those who may be subject to higher insurance rates because they’ve had a lapse in coverage. Critics say that’s not enough to guarantee an affordable alternative for those who are now covered because the Affordable Care Act prevents insurers from rejecting people or charging higher rates based on their health.

President Donald Trump celebrated the passage of the health care bill, flanked by Republicans in the Rose Garden, saying he is confident it will get through the Senate. Mr. Trump called President Barack Obama’s health care law a “catastrophe” and called the GOP bill “a great plan.”

“Premiums will be coming down, deductibles will be coming down,” he said Thursday. Looking ahead, Pres. Trump said they’ll celebrate “when we get it through the Senate, and there’s so much spirit there.”

Protesters gathered outside the Worthington offices of Republican Rep. Pat Tiberi. They argue the GOP bill would lead to higher costs for seniors, will cover fewer people through Medicaid, and will eventually cause millions more to drop their health insurance because they won’t be able to afford it.

Dr. Greg Lam, a cardiologist from Circleville, said publicly protesting was a first for him.

‘It’s going to take money away from the poor and from middle income patients and it’s going to give it to the rich and the pharmaceutical companies and the insurance companies,” Lam said. “I just think morally – that’s wrong. So I’m here to stand up for my patients.”

Protester Mia Lewis says republicans rushed the bill through the house for the sole purpose of scoring political points for themselves and for President Trump.

“The idea that you would put through such an immense and significant and important and impactful piece of legislation without even waiting for the Congressional Budget Office to weigh in on how it will impact millions of Americans is absurd on its face,” she said.

Tiberi said the House plan is just the first step in the process.

“It has to go to the Senate still and the Senate will put its imprint on it and then we’ll have to compromise the differences,” he said.

Tiberi’s office released the following statement:

“Obamacare is failing and it is leaving people with higher costs, fewer choices and unreliable care. With the American Health Care Act, we are providing relief from these pervasive problems that are hurting Americans from all walks of life.

“Today’s vote is one part in our multi-step approach to carefully transition to a patient-centered system where people have better access to quality care at a price they can afford. It ensures that no one can be denied coverage based on pre-existing conditions. It will also give states additional flexibility and resources to meet the health care needs of their populations if they show they can drive down costs and boost coverage.

“This fight to fix our health care system isn’t over. As the Senate considers the reforms in AHCA, I urge my colleagues in the House and the Trump administration to continue to focus on additional steps we can take to restore the free market, increase choices, lower costs and put Medicaid on a sustainable financial path so it is available for the most vulnerable patients. After seven years of Obamacare’s broken promises, my constituents and all Americans deserve no less.”

Ohio Senator Rob Portman released the following statement on the passage in the House:

The status quo on health care is unsustainable.  Premiums and deductibles continue their steep climb, and the skyrocketing cost of health care is hurting Ohio families and small businesses.  There’s only one insurance company in more than one third of Ohio counties, which is leaving Ohioans with fewer choices and higher costs.  Congress must take responsible action that lowers health care costs, but these changes must be made in a way that does not leave people behind. 

“I’ve already made clear that I don’t support the House bill as currently constructed because I continue to have concerns that this bill does not do enough to protect Ohio’s Medicaid expansion population, especially those who are receiving treatment for heroin and prescription drug abuse.  We have an opioid crisis in this country, and I’m going to continue to work with my colleagues on solutions that ensure that those who are impacted by this epidemic can continue to receive treatment.” 

 

Congressman Pat Tiberi issued the following statement:

Obamacare is failing and it is leaving people with higher costs, fewer choices and unreliable care. With the American Health Care Act, we are providing relief from these pervasive problems that are hurting Americans from all walks of life.

“Today’s vote is one part in our multi-step approach to carefully transition to a patient-centered system where people have better access to quality care at a price they can afford. It ensures that no one can be denied coverage based on pre-existing conditions. It will also give states additional flexibility and resources to meet the health care needs of their populations if they show they can drive down costs and boost coverage.

“This fight to fix our health care system isn’t over. As the Senate considers the reforms in AHCA, I urge my colleagues in the House and the Trump administration to continue to focus on additional steps we can take to restore the free market, increase choices, lower costs and put Medicaid on a sustainable financial path so it is available for the most vulnerable patients. After seven years of Obamacare’s broken promises, my constituents and all Americans deserve no less.”

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