Legislators react to ‘repeal’ bill

The passage of the American Health Care Act serves as a fulfilled promise for one local representative, but for a senator it’s a “punch in the gut” for middle-class families.

“For six years, Obamacare has failed the American people. I have been a vocal leader in efforts to repeal this failed health care law,” said U.S. Rep. Tom Marino, R-Cogan Station, who voted for the new act. “The (American Health Care Act) is a vast improvement over Obamacare and it will give the American people the freedom to choose their own health care.”

The bill will now travel to the Senate where U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Scranton, will cast his vote.

“Republicans in the House of Representatives just delivered an economic punch to the gut of middle-class families in Pennsylvania,” Casey said. “What passed today isn’t a health care bill, but a scheme to cut taxes for millionaires and big corporations, a giveaway for special interests, and forces middle-class families in Pennsylvania to pay more for their health care.”

According to Marino, the passage of the bill lowers premiums for families and business owners and does not eliminate coverage for preexisting conditions and prohibits lifetime limits on coverage.

Casey stressed that those with pre-existing conditions would be put into a “high-risk pool” and need to pay thousands more for coverage. Additionally, an age tax also would be levied on older citizens, Casey said.

U.S. Rep. Glenn “GT” Thompson, also voted for the new act, hoping it will increase diversity of plans within counties and lower premiums for customers.

“The American Health Care Act aims to bring lower costs, increase choice, and provide assurances to those with pre-existing conditions that they will be able to maintain coverage,” Thompson said.

Thompson said he had concerns when the first act was proposed over costs for aging Americans and “our most vulnerable populations.”

But he said changes to the bill addressed his concerns and he is “optimistic that we can continue through the legislative process and deliver a health care reform bill to the president’s desk.”

The new act pulls back funding for Medicaid in what Marino called “capping” but Casey referred to as “decimating.”

“The (act) also makes major entitlement reform by capping Medicaid spending for the first time, empowering the states and saving taxpayers nearly $840 billion,” Marino said.

But Casey referred to the bill’s action on Medicaid as a broken promise from Trump who pledged not to touch Medicaid or Medicare while he was on the campaign trail.

“It is outrageous to think that anyone would support legislation that decimates Medicaid — a program designed to help our most vulnerable friends, family members and neighbors,” Casey said.

Casey promised to fight against the bill when it comes to the senate, and urged President Donald Trump to work on a more bipartisan option.

Marino, a three-time cancer survivor, and a father of someone with Cystic Fibrosis, said he is proud to support the act, adding that it “provides states with $100 billion to design programs that meet the unique needs of their patient populations and provides an additional $15 billion for mental health and substance abuse disorders.”