Members of the Freedom Caucus Speak Out about the AHCA’s Bait and Switch

When the House of Representatives, mostly led by members of The Freedom Caucus, recently refused to pass the American Health Care Act (AHCA), it seemed like a treasonous debacle to the American people. Even President Trump expressed his anger.  Several Pro-Life groups supported the AHCA, because it would have defunded Planned Parenthood.  

But, what the American people didn’t know was that the American Health Care Act would not have accomplished its primary mission and promise:  Repeal and Replace ObamaCare.  

The American Health Care Act was a kludge of a health-care policy. Described as a way to simultaneously repeal key elements of the Affordable Care Act and replace them with market-oriented reforms, the bill in its final form managed to do little of either. Freedom Caucus members were particularly concerned about the willingness of House leaders to leave the vast majority of Obamacare’s regulations on the books — after Republicans spent seven years promising that the party would “repeal and replace Obamacare.” Even the rationale that the AHCA would be better than nothing was hard to justify; it probably would have further destabilized the individual market, while millions fewer would have been insured.  See It’s Wrong for Trump to Blame Conservatives.  

Even as Obamacare continues funding Planned Parenthood, the foundation supporting abortion is weakening through other means. Since the AHCA’s defeat, President Trump has taken action to defund a UN agency that supports forced abortion.  Also on March 31, Congress voted to "restore the ability of states to stop one stream of our tax dollars going to Planned Parenthood and redirect it to community health centers that provide comprehensive primary and preventive health care.” See Major Victories for Life  and Bill Passes to allow states to redirect funds away from Abortion Clinics.  

And, on April 7, 2017, Judge Neil Gorsuch was confirmed to the U.S. Supreme Court. Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards tweeted that Gorsuch’s confirmation is "the worst" because Gorsuch has written that "the intentional taking of  human life by private persons is ALWAYS wrong." See Why Justice Gorsuch will have an immediate (and big) impact on the Supreme Court.

Hear what several members of Congress, including the House Freedom Caucus, have to say about the disastrous flaws in the AHCA, and why they must be corrected.    

Arizona Congressman Paul Gosar:  For a law that impacts nearly 20 percent of the American economy, Congress typically would hold hearings and listen to experts who have reviewed the text of the bill. Yet, there were almost no public hearings for the American Health Care Act. To make matters worse, I was told, along with the rest of Congress, that this bill was the best we were going to get and we could “take it or leave it.” Arizonans didn’t send me to Congress to “take it or leave it.” I was sent to end the status quo and fulfill the promises made to fix our broken health care system. See Why I Opposed the American Health Care Act.

Arizona Congressman Andy Biggs:  Unfortunately, the new health bill that was introduced—the American Health Care Act—merely amends the existing framework of Obamacare. Rather than representing a true reform package, this bill does not fully address funding for our high-risk population, nor does it lead to the lower premiums Americans are expecting for economic relief.  The bill also provides massive federal subsidies to make permanent an entitlement program that our grandchildren will pay for in the future. Many of the residents of the East Valley have already taken to calling it “Obamacare Lite”—and they are absolutely right.  In his newsletter, Congressman Biggs wrote : Efforts to repeal Obamacare are ongoing, and many of my colleagues are willing to forgo the April district work period to stay in DC in order to resolve this issue. I, too, am willing to stay as long as the discussions lead toward a solution that keeps faith with the American people. You can be assured that my work on health care reform in the House of Representatives is far from over. See Newsletter – What’s Next for Obamacare Repeal?

North Carolina Congressman Mark Meadows:  I promised the people of North Carolina’s 11th District that I would fight for a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act and a replacement with a market-driven approach that brings down costs and provides more choices for the American people. I remain wholeheartedly committed to following through on this promise. I know President Trump is committed to repealing Obamacare and replacing it with a system that works for American families, and I look forward to working with him to do just that. See Representative Meadows’ Statement on the AHCA

Arkansas Congressman Rick Crawford:  The AHCA maintains Obamacare’s overall structure and approach, an “approach that cements the federal government’s role in health insurance….When we’re $20 trillion in debt, and we’re facing interest rate increases, I don’t want to engage in another [entitlement] program that exacerbates that problem. Big government under Republicans vs. big government under Democrats is still big government

Idaho Congressman Raul Labrador:  The American Health Care Act was not a repeal of Obamacare….I would have voted for a bill that actually repealed and replaced Obamacare.  But the AHCA was not that bill.  Critics of the bill called it ‘Obamacare Lite’ or ‘Obamacare 2.0 ’ and those criticisms were not unfair.  In proposing a health care bill, the House Republican Leadership should have done better.  A lot better.  House Leadership should have drafted a bill that kept the promises made to the American people in documents like the “Pledge to America," signed by House Republicans in 2010, the “Better Way" drafted by House Leadership in 2016, and the “Contract with the American Voter” issued by Donald Trump as a Presidential candidate last year.   When it came to the ACA, the Republican position was crystal clear: We will fully repeal the ACA and replace it with a market-based system. Many people believe that these mandates are necessary to protect the most vulnerable in our society, especially those with pre-existing conditions.  However, we can provide these protections without costly mandates…Those who say we must accept a government takeover of America’s health care system in order to cover the most vulnerable are creating a false choice.  We can protect those who most need our help while lowering health care costs for all Americans….When it comes to health care, it’s more important to do it right than to do it quickly.  See Rep. Labrador’s Statement on the AHCA.

Florida Congressman Bill Posey:  Early on in the Obama Administration I met with then-Secretary of Health and Human Services Sebelius. I asked if we could move forward together with legislation to address three areas of health care with a bipartisan consensus: helping people with pre-existing conditions, allowing young people to stay on a parent’s insurance plan, and preventing insurance companies from dropping people when they fell ill. Unfortunately, Secretary Sebelius stated that Administration would not work with Congress in these three areas. Instead, they planned to transform America’s health care in its entirety. Since then I have heard from many constituents about how their premiums have skyrocketed to unaffordable levels, how their choices have dwindled and how their employment has suffered as a result of many of the policies included in Obamacare. From the beginning, the goal of repealing Obamacare, which I support, was to enact legislation in its place to bring down prices and offer consumers more choices through competition, including those with pre-existing conditions. Regrettably, this bill falls short of that goal. Congress should take more time to get it right.

North Carolina Congressman Ted Budd:  As currently written, I cannot support the American Health Care Act. This bill leaves the structure of Obamacare in place and does not provide the relief that North Carolina families need from high premiums. I am completely committed to repealing Obamacare and do not think that Congress should take a recess until we have done so.  

Texas Congressman Randy Weber:  For years, I have said that I would vote to repeal Obamacare – plain and simple. I wanted to support this bill, but at the end of the day, it simply is not yet good enough for the American people. Congressional leadership, the White House, the House Freedom Caucus, and my fellow House colleagues worked tirelessly to provide relief from the burdensome federal mandates of Obamacare. I am deeply appreciative of the time and attention given during the negotiations, and for the pro-market, sensible changes that came about because of them. However, the government does not belong in the health care industry. The best solution to fix the failure of Obamacare is patient-centered, physician supported, market-based health care. See Local Reaction to Failed Health Care Bill.

Florida Congressman Ted Yoho:  Today’s decision to postpone the vote on the AHCA was the right move. The bill that was presented to the House was not the correct vehicle at this time for a full, effective repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), a.k.a. Obamacare. It was a good first start, but the bill did not go far enough. The bill made changes to the existing law but didn’t remove the framework of Obamacare…Our goal to bring down skyrocketing premiums and repeal government-run healthcare with a more patient-centered system remains the same.  We have an opportunity going forward to continue crafting a bill that gets healthcare right for all Americans… Voters sent me to Congress to repeal Obamacare 100 percent and to fix our healthcare system. However, this bill left in place a framework of Obamacare that lasted at least until 2020. With that in place, any future Congress could re-implement federal mandates, subsidies, and control of our personal insurance.The AHCA created an unsustainable system of federal advanceable refundable tax credits for health insurance purchases. It did not repeal all of the ACA’s insurance regulations that drive up premiums. It did not ensure coverage would be adequately priced for elderly patients. Finally, the AHCA still would not have contained costs but would have kept government mandates requiring coverage that people do not want, need, or should pay for.

Maryland Congressman Andy Harris, M.D.: Maryland’s only Republican in Congress, Harris opposed the measure at a critical moment in the negotiations. The Johns Hopkins-trained anesthesiologist, who made repealing Obamacare a central theme of his campaigns, defended the Freedom Caucus in an interview Monday, and said last-minute efforts to broker a compromise were undermined by a take-it-or-leave-it approach and an immovable deadline. "Had the deadline been extended for a couple of days, or negotiations not cut off midweek last week, we’d probably be in a very different place right now," the Baltimore County Republican said. "You can’t possibly come to an agreement on negotiated changes if no further changes are going to be made."

Georgia Congressman Jody Hice: …the bill does not go nearly far enough in repealing Obamacare. It doesn’t move it in the direction we said we would move it…This still is government-involved government healthcare. It’s an entitlement program. It is, in essence, a GOP version of Obamacare, and that’s not what we’ve been sent here to do.  See Jody Hice’s rejection of GOP health care plan could help sink bill

Kentucky Congressman Thomas Massie   Rep. Massie didn’t mince words about his opinion of the American Health Care Act, referring to it as a “stinking pile of garbage." He also said that the bill “was written by the same people that wrote Obamacare. That’s why it looks so similar. It was the insurance lobby.” On Twitter, Massie jokingly said that he was changing his vote on the bill: from a “no” to a “hell no."  Rep. Thomas Massie: GOP Obamacare repeal ‘stinking pile of garbage’ written by the ‘insurance lobby,’ and it ‘will fail’

Virginia Congressman Dave Brat: It (the AHCA) is too much politics and not enough good policy…Repeal does not mean Repeat. He also said that he has seen no evidence that the bill would reduce costs. And in a piece for The Washington Examiner, Brat said that the bill rests on the same philosophical premise as Obamacare.

New Jersey Congressman Leonard Lance: …the American Health Care Act would not actually drive down costs. After meeting with President Donald Trump at the White House, Lance said that he “entered the meeting with many of the concerns shared by my constituents about how the law would specifically affect health care costs in New Jersey and funding for state programming.

Virginia Congressman Thomas Garrett: ..The ACHA does not give Americans access to affordable care…By keeping the Medicaid expansion going for a number of years, the federal government would be “rewarding bad behavior.” The refundable tax credits would be a new entitlement.

West Virginia Congressman Alex Mooney:  I intend to continue working to pass legislation to repeal Obamacare, lower premiums and increase choices for hardworking West Virginia taxpayers

South Carolina Congressman Mark Sanford:  From a conservative’s perspective, there are a number of things that need further refinement. This notion of a refundable tax credit is a big deal, Medicaid expansion is a big deal, the Cadillac tax is a big deal.

Iowa Congressman David Young The AHCA is a good start but it does not yet get it right and therefore I cannot support it in it’s present form.  The foundation of healthcare reform must be personalized, patient-centered healthcare that treats patients like human beings, not a number. That puts you and your doctor, and not politicians, in charge of your healthcare. This is achievable –we just are not yet there.

See Also:

Which Republicans Were Against the American Health Care Act?     

Republicans Who Make up the Freedom Caucus  

No breakthrough on Obamacare repeal Tuesday night