Republicans managed to secure enough votes in the House of Representatives today to pass a bill that would repeal the Affordable Health Care Act and replace it with a system that uses tax credits, not initial subsidies, to try to get families to obtain health insurance. In Maryland, all but one of the state’s members of Congress were displeased.
Republican Rep. Andy Harris, the lone Maryland lawmaker who backed the proposed American Health Care Act, issued a lengthy statement explaining why he voted “yea.”
“Since 2014, Marylanders have seen unsustainable and skyrocketing premiums, and some rates will have more than tripled. As Obamacare fails, insurers are leaving the market, and consumers are left with few options for affordable coverage,” he said, adding about his own district, “On the Eastern Shore, there are currently only two insurance options available, and there is no HMO insurance plan available.”
Others, like Rep. John Sarbanes, lamented the fact that many Marylanders could be cut off from their insurance. “If I could vote against it 1,000 times – for the thousands of my constituents that would be hurt by this bill – I would. It’s wrong, it’s immoral and it’s inhumane,” he said on the House floor.
Congressman C.A. Dutch Ruppersberger said the bill, which passed in a narrow 217-213 vote today, “is even worse than the last one“ – a reference to the first try at the American Health Care Act that floundered in the House earlier this year.
He also said it will kick more people off insurance than it can sign up, which could in theory raise premiums: “The whole point of healthcare reform was to curtail the unsustainable premium increases American families are struggling with. You do that by getting more people covered. This bill does neither.”
Sen. Ben Cardin suggested that despite the win for Republicans, they would have a much harder time moving the proposal through the Senate.
— Senator Ben Cardin (@SenatorCardin) May 4, 2017
Baltimore’s own Rep. Elijah Cummings shared letters he received from constituents opposing the bill on his website. In his own statement, he said, “If this bill is signed into law, we all lose, but none more than the working poor and those in chronic need of care. This bill is a truly shameful and unacceptable answer to Americans’ health care needs.”
Cummings told CNN last night that he knew Republicans had enough votes to get it passed, which meant today was no surprise to him. However, he did suggest that Democrats could benefit from all this come election season, joking that it meant his party could now get a boost from displeased voters and take back the House of Representatives in 2018.