Members of the House Freedom Caucus stood with Sen. Rand Paul (R.-Ky.) Tuesday to denounce the Obamacare replacement bill supported by House Speaker Paul Ryan (R.-Wis.) and to announce the filing of Paul’s own bill, which is sponsored in the House by Rep. Jim Jordan (R.-Ohio).
“There is one thing that has united Republicans in 2010, when we won the House; in 2014, when we won the Senate; and 2016 when we won the White House,” said Paul, who was flanked by members of the House Freedom Caucus, including the caucus chairman Rep. Mark Meadows (R.-N.C.) and Jordan, the previous HFC chairman.
A clean repeal of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA), like the bill that every House and Senate Republican voted for in 2015, should not divide Republicans, he said.
Jordan said in order to bring down costs and improve medical care, Congress must repeal Obamacare completely.
The Ohio congressman said the first step is to vote on the 2015 bill.
Paul, who was a practising eye surgeon before his 2010 election to Congress, said in 2017 Republicans are united supporting complete repeal, but they are divided on how, if at all, to replace the 2010 PPACA.
“Conservatives have a replacement plan. House leadership has a replacement plan,” he said. “Vote on all the replacement plans and let’s see what happens.”
Jordan said the plan supported by Ryan and the House Republican leadership is Obamacare in a different form.
“Then, there is our plan,” he said. “It is the one that I think is consistent with what we told the voters we’re going to do: Repeal Obamacare and replace it with a market-centered, patient-centered, and doctor-centered plan that actually brings down the cost of insurance.”
In 2015, Republicans put a bill on President Barack Obama’s desk that repealed Obamacare, got rid of every single tax, and got rid of the mandate, Jordan said. Obama vetoed that bill, which was sponsored by then-Rep. Tom Price (R.-Ga.) — now the Secretary of Health and Human Services.
Compare what happened in 2015 with the course that Ryan and the Republican leadership have set out on, Jordan said.
“Now, the first thing that Republicans are bringing forward is a piece of legislation that we are going to put on a Republican president’s desk, that doesn’t repeal it, but keeps Medicaid expansion–and actually expands it–that keeps some of the tax increases. That is not what we promised the American people we would do.”
Meadows said repealing Obamacare meant repealing all of Obamacare, all of the fees, taxes, and mandates.
All Obamacare replacement bills will be subject to scoring by the Congressional Budget Office. “But there is one score that the American people will pay attention to: Does it really lower their health care costs and their premiums? That’s the only score that really matters and if this doesn’t do it, we better find something that does,” according to Meadows.
Paul told reporters that in the House the score that counts is 218 votes.
If the GOP leadership has 218 votes, then they will pass their bill and move on, he said.
If the GOP leadership does not have 218 votes, then they have to find the votes and they will have to talk to conservatives, the senator said.
Vice President Mike Pence added to the day’s drama when he met with members of the House Freedom Caucus after having his regular Tuesday lunch with GOP senators.
Virginia Republican Rep. David Brat told Breitbart News the meeting with Pence was very direct and focused because both Pence and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, who was traveling with Pence, are men of the House.
Brat said he told Price that he needs to convince people on the Hill that regulations on insurance companies will be adjusted to make sense.
Case in point, the congresman said: it is not legal for a 25-year-old male to buy a cheap insurance plan that only covers catastrophic illness and injury. “Right now, that kid has to buy a gold-plated that covers every health scenario under the sun.”
The White House put out a statement about the meeting:
The Vice President today met with conservative leaders in the House to discuss the failures of Obamacare and the need to repeal and replace that disastrous law. Participants discussed their shared desire for fiscally responsible, market-based reforms that encourage competition and provide individuals and families with the ability to choose the health insurance option that is best for them. The Vice President stressed this is the first step in the process to deliver on the President’s promise to the American people and looks forward to House passage of the American Health Care Act.
The American Health Care Act is the name of the bill supported by House GOP leadership.
South Carolina Republican Rep. Mark Sanford told reporters at the Capitol on Tuesday that in the spirit of President Donald Trump’s legacy as a businessman, he is treating the Obamacare bill supported by Speaker Paul Ryan (R.-Wis.) as the beginning of the process, not the end.
“In as much as President Trump views many things as a negotiation, I’m quite sure he would rarely take any party’s opening bid,” said Sanford, flanked by other members of the House Freedom Caucus, as well as Sen. Rand Paul (R.-Ky.) and Sen. Mike Lee (R.-Utah)–all of whom consider the RyanCare bill a weak attempt to repeal and replace the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
“With regard to a healthcare bill moving forward, I see leadership’s healthcare plan as an opening proposal,” he said.
“The debate that is forming will allow conservatives to enhance and improve what has been proposed, and I think this could represent a win for patients, healthcare providers, and the taxpayer alike,” the congressman said.
“In the case of the Affordable Care Act, it’s important that we not lower the bar on what we believe simply because a Republican is now in the White House,” he said.
Sanford said he and other Capitol Hill conservatives do not understand how every House and Senate Republican voted for the 2015 repeal and replace bill, but the 2015 bill is no longer supported by the Republican leadership. The 2015 Obamacare repeal and replace bill was authored by Rep. Tom Price (R.-Ga.), who is now Heath and Human Services Secretary.
“We have a repeal bill that was fully supported by House and Senate Republicans and made its way to President Obama’s desk,” he said.
“As Republicans, we decried the fact that he would veto it,” he said. “Why would we now water down this same bill and send a new and weaker bill to President Trump?”