The American Health Care Act that narrowly passed in the House of Representatives on Thursday ends a tax on higher-income earners, eliminates the mandate to buy health insurance or pay tax penalties, cuts Medicaid, allows states to impose work requirements on low-income people in return for Medicaid, and turns insurance subsidies into tax credits.
The measure retains the popular feature that allows parents’ polices to cover their children until age 26. But it also would block federal payments for a year to Planned Parenthood, which Republicans seek to defund because the group includes abortion among its health services.
How LI’s reps voted on healthcare
Long Island’s delegation split, voting along party lines:
Rep. Peter King (R-Seaford)
said he hopes the Senate can protect Medicaid expansion. If it doesn’t, he said, “We can always vote ‘no’ when it comes back” to the House.
Rep. Lee Zeldin (R-Shirley)
“If anyone on the Senate side has an idea to make the bill better, I think that’s great and I welcome it.”
Kathleen Rice (D-Garden City)
Republicans rushed the bill “to fulfill a campaign promise, give President Trump a win and dump this disaster off on the Senate.”
Rep. Thomas Suozzi
“I have to believe that the Senate will not act as irresponsibly as the Republicans in the House.”
Rep. Gregory Meeks
His district includes parts of Nassau County. He said “this bill is wrong and I hope it will be dead on arrival in the United States Senate.”
What happens next
Republicans must now try to maneuver the measure through a Senate terrain that is different politically and procedurally from the House.
The House bill was written by Republicans representing districts often drawn to incorporate strong majorities of GOP voters. Senators represent entire states, and many tend to reflect more pragmatic views than their House colleagues.
In the Senate, the 52-member Republican majority hopes to use a budgetary procedure called reconciliation to pass the measure with a simple majority, instead of risking falling short of the 60 votes needed to break a Democratic filibuster.
Senate’s Republican makeup
Several Senate Republicans come from northeastern and Midwestern states with large numbers of low-income people receiving Medicaid. Many of the 31 states that accepted Obama’s expansion of that program are led by GOP governors, and senators have no interest in cutting their states’ funds and taking coverage away from voters.
Republican senators also represent states ravaged by deaths caused by opioid abuse. The House measure would let states escape Obama’s requirement that insurers cover anti-drug services.
What New York’s senators say
Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.)
“This bill is going nowhere fast in the United States Senate.”
“Rather than trying to pass a different version of the same Trumpcare bill that would mean higher costs and less care, Senate Republicans should refuse to follow their House colleagues over a cliff, reject, repeal and work with Democrats to improve our health care system in a bipartisan way.”
Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.)
said in a statement that the bill is “atrocious and must be defeated in the Senate.”
Gillibrand acknowledged that Congress needs to improve the Affordable Care Act, but said her suggestions would be to “subsidize insurance companies further with taxpayer dollars or create a not-for-profit public option that cuts insurance companies and their profits out of the equation to lower premiums, drug prices, and out-of-pocket costs for everyone.”
If the AHCA passes the Senate
If the bill is to pass the Senate, it’s expected to face changes from both Republicans and Democrats. But even if the bill became law in its current state, states would have certain options.
The bill allows states to opt-out of certain protections in the Affordable Care Act. If they do that, it could result in insurers charging older customers higher premiums; insurers not being required to cover services such as hospital and outpatient care, pregnancy and mental health treatment; and insurers charging higher premiums to people with pre-existing health problems. New York state could choose to continue enforcing these protections instead of getting waivers for them.
Tell your senators what you think
Party: Democratic | Committees: Environment and Public Works, Armed Services, Agriculture, Nutrition and Forestry Committee, Special Committee on Aging | Phone: Long Island — 631-249-2825, Washington, D.C. — 202-224-4451 | Email: www.gillibrand.senate.gov/contact
Party:Democratic | Committees: House Committee on Rules and Administration, Judiciary Committee, Finance Committee, Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee | Phone: Long Island — 631-753-0978, Washington, D.C. — 202-224-6542 | Email: www.schumer.senate.gov/contact/email-chuck
BY TOM BRUNE with Emily Ngo and The Associated Press | Published: Friday, May 5, 2017