Republican leaders are hoping to pass their health care replacement plan on Thursday, but the conservative sponsor of legislation to fully repeal the Affordable Care Act says the current GOP preserves far too much of the current system and must be rejected.
Rep. Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, is also a co-founder and former chairman of the House Freedom Caucus and has introduced legislation to fully repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as the ACA or Obamacare. Jordan is vigorously opposed to the current version of American Health Care Act, arguing this is not what Republicans promised voters since 2010.
“We’re not repealing Obamacare. Even people who are for it, like Charles Krauthammer, has said it’s Obamacare-lite. It keeps the Obamacare structure and that’s not what we told the voters. If you don’t repeal Obamacare, you’re never going to bring down the cost of insurance for middle class and working class families,” said Jordan.
“So it is really that basic. Let’s do what we said. That’s what they sent us here to do. Let’s actually repeal Obamacare. A clean and complete repeal is what we’re after. This doesn’t do it,” said Jordan.
The American Health Care Act, or AHCA, is vigorously endorsed by President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wisc. Ryan argues the plan does fulfill the promise to repeal and replace Obamacare.
Jordan laid out several areas he insists are key differences between a complete repeal and what the GOP plan does.
“We didn’t tell voters we were going to repeal Obamacare but we were going to keep some of the taxes in place, which the speaker’s plan does. We didn’t say we were going to repeal Obamacare but take the Medicaid expansion and extend it for several years, which the speaker’s plan does,” said Jordan.
“We certainly didn’t say we’re going to repeal Obamacare and start this new program of refundable tax credits and repeal Obamacare and get rid of the mandate but keep this 30 percent surcharge that we tell insurance companies you have to levy on people who don’t maintain continuous coverage,” said Jordan.
The most disturbing issue for Jordan is Republicans getting ready to own a massive health care reform that he believes will not lower the cost of health insurance.
“This is just Obamacare in a different format, and because of that it will not bring down the cost of insurance. It will not bring down premiums. Therefore, middle class families are still going to see the ridiculous high levels they’ve seen over the last several years,” said Jordan.
Jordan and several other members of the House Freedom Caucus are demanding a full repeal of Obamacare, just as the GOP-controlled Congress did in 2015 before the legislation was vetoed by President Obama.
“The one thing we know about our plan is it’s passed before,” said Jordan.
So why won’t leaders bring up that same bill?
“They’re saying some people may not vote for that, which is amazing to me. During election time you can do one thing, but once you get in office and it actually counts you can’t? That’s what drives voters crazy,” said Jordan.
Jordan also doesn’t buy the GOP leadership’s three-step approach to reform, which includes this bill, letting Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price roll back many of the regulations in the current law and then passing market-based reforms in a separate bill that will likely require 60 votes to clear the Senate.
“That’s a joke,” said Jordan.
“We know phase two is going to get tied up in court. You saw what the courts have done on President Trump’s executive order on the travel ban. You’ve seen how he reworked it and came back with something we know is consistent with the law. And where is that right now? It’s tied up in court. So to think the left is not going to take Obamacare and tie it up in court is just ridiculous,” said Jordan.
As frustrating as it has been for full repeal proponents to plead their case with leadership, Jordan says the difference between conservatives and Democrats on the issue is like night and day.
“They view success as signing people up for government, Medicaid or Obamacare. We define success as let’s put in place the policies that make insurance affordable so that people can pick the plan that meets their needs. That’s what we’re trying to get accomplished,” said Jordan.
While Trump is vociferously supporting the GOP plan, Jordan is hopeful the president will be able to broker changes to the legislation that will rid the law of crippling insurance regulations dictating what has to be in all policies, allow for market based reforms that will drive competition and lower costs and repeal other burdensome regulations by statute.
Jordan, who met with Trump along with other Freedom Caucus members, says the White House has been far more accommodating than Republican leaders in Congress.
“We appreciate the outreach the White House did being willing to work with us. Our leadership initially talked about this binary choice, take-it-or-leave-it approach, which I don’t think is helpful. Since then I think they’ve been more open to talk with us, probably driven by the fact they don’t have the votes,” said Jordan.
With a vote planned for Thursday, Jordan suspects a scramble is underway to find more support for the AHCA.
“One thing I learned a long time ago is when leadership is out there saying they have the votes, that means they probably don’t have the votes. Based on what I know from our members of the Freedom Caucus and some other people, I believe they do not have the votes, so we’ll see how negotiations go this week,” said Jordan.