House Republican: Trumpcare could ‘severely harm the health and lives’ of my constituents

Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen isn’t holding back.

House Speaker Paul Ryan administers the House oath of office to Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) during a mock swearing in ceremony on January 3. CREDIT: AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana
House Speaker Paul Ryan administers the House oath of office to Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL) during a mock swearing in ceremony on January 3. CREDIT: AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana

Ahead of an expected American Health Care Act (AHCA) vote on Thursday, House Republicans face a choice — buck Speaker Ryan and the Trump administration, or risk casting a vote for a bill that could result in thousands of their constituents losing health care coverage.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated a previous version of the “Trumpcare” package would’ve resulted in 24 million Americans losing their health care by 2026, with 14 million losing coverage next year alone. That bill stalled before it even came up for a vote in March amid polling showing only 17 percent of Americans supported it. The new version is even harsher on people with preexisting conditions. It hasn’t yet received a CBO score. And yet Republicans are rushing to vote on it anyway.

One House Republican who won’t be voting for it is Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-FL). In a statement posted Thursday morning, the South Florida Republican characterized the bill as having “the potential to severely harm the health and lives of people in South Florida.”

“Despite amendments and charges, the AHCA still fails to provide for the needs of my constituents,” she adds. “I will not support a bill that has the potential to severely harm the health and lives of people in South Florida and therefore I remain steadfast in my commitment to vote NO on the AHCA. The recent addition of further funds to high risk pools continues to be inadequate and fails to cover those who need it most.”

“If enacted, the older and poorer South Floridians will be worse off and will find it more difficult to obtain quality healthcare. My constituents should not have to take a step backward in their ability to obtain treatment for any illness and thus, I will vote NO.”

Despite Ros-Lehtinen’s opposition, those who have been tracking the votes closely think the AHCA has enough support from House Republicans to pass:

Ros-Lehtinen has voted with President Trump 74 percent of the time. She’s not running for reelection. On the merits, she thinks Trumpcare is a terrible deal for her constituents.

Trump, meanwhile, has resorted to distorting the truth about his health care legislation, saying during a Face the Nation interview last weekend that “we have now preexisting conditions in the bill… We have — we’ve set up a pool for the preexisting conditions so that the premiums can be allowed to fall.”

But the bill actually allows states to sell health care plans that would be so unaffordable for such people that they’d be priced out of the market. And the “pool” Trump refers to isn’t sufficient to replace the Affordable Care Act’s coverage for preexisting conditions.