The American Health Care Act narrowly passed in the U.S. House Thursday. The bill had received only one vote more than the 216 required to move on to the Senate. The bill repeals most of former President Barack Obama’s signature health care law, the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Under Obamacare, Rhode Island was able to insure more than 100,000 residents through Medicaid expansion.
Rep. David Cicilline said the passage of the new bill was the “cruelest and most immoral thing” the GOP had done to the American people. He said the bill would lead to an increase in insurance premiums and higher out-of-pocket health care costs for the working class.
Rep. Jim Langevin pointed to the costs that would be transferred to the states for health care.
“The ACHA will increase costs for seniors, shift the expense of expanded Medicaid coverage to states, and create huge tax breaks for the wealthy while low- to middle-income adults pay more for less coverage,” said Langevin.
Sen. Jack Reed slammed House Republicans for voting on the bill before the Congressional Budget Office could calculate federal costs.
“They wrote this bill in secret and now they want to rush it through before people know how badly it will balloon the national debt,” said Reed. “Republicans can criticize Obamacare all they want, but the fact is we took tough votes on revenue changes and fees to actually pay for what we proposed.”
Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse who is a member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee called the bill a “raw deal.”
“This legislation sets us on a path to the bad old days when insurance companies could refuse coverage to those with preexisting conditions and deny people health benefits that should be in every plan – like maternity and mental health care,” said Whitehouse.
“The Affordable Care Act is working in Rhode Island--we can't afford to go back,” said Raimondo in a statement of her own.
Meanwhile, the new president of the Hospital Association of Rhode Island, Teresa Paiva Weed, released a statement expressing concern over cuts in Medicaid that could hurt hospital services.
“Most alarming is the legislation repeals much of the funding currently dedicated to providing coverage in the future, yet reductions to payments for hospital services remain,” said Paiva Weed.