DeGette Resists Approval of GOP Repeal Bill, Works to Limit The Damage It Would Do
Washington, DC – At a marathon committee markup, Congresswoman Diana DeGette (D-CO), Chief Deputy Whip, fought to protect Coloradans from reckless GOP efforts to dismantle the Affordable Care Act by resisting Republican committee members’ unilateral rush to repeal the ACA and proposing amendments to limit the damage this new legislation would do.
DeGette also proposed amendments to prevent the defunding of Planned Parenthood and to protect millions of Americans from increases in out-of-pocket costs, including deductibles.
The markup was gaveled to an end this afternoon in its 28th hour.
“We did all we could for now, but we’re not giving up until this bill is either fixed or scrapped,” said DeGette, a senior member of the Energy and Commerce Committee that was charged with reviewing the measure before sending it to the House for a vote. “Americans are counting on us to protect their care. We’re not about to let the tyranny of the majority in Congress leave people vulnerable just because Republicans want to jam through an ill-conceived bill.”
The Republicans’ ACA repeal bill, entitled the American Health Care Act, is nothing short of a disaster for Colorado. If it becomes law in its current form, the bill would eliminate the state’s Medicaid expansion, and nearly 63,000 people in DeGette’s district alone would lose coverage. The tax credits that now help the financially disadvantaged afford health care would be eliminated, and another 10,400 of her constituents would stand to become uninsured.
House Speaker Paul Ryan vowed in January to graft onto the ACA repeal bill a provision to block access to Planned Parenthood health centers. The organization offers an array of preventive care, including screenings for breast cancer and maternal health services, and federal law already guarantees that no government funding supports the abortion counseling and related services that some of its clinics provide. DeGette’s first amendment to the bill would have eliminated Section 103 of the American Health Care Act, which deprives Planned Parenthood health centers of federal Medicaid funding for one year. The amendment was defeated on a party-line vote at 2:30 a.m.
Another DeGette amendment, also voted down along party lines, would have struck a provision in the repeal bill that will let health insurance companies dramatically increase deductibles. Section 134 of the repeal bill eliminates the ACA’s “actuarial value” standards, which protect consumers by requiring insurance companies to pay 70 to 90 percent of the costs of their enrollees' health care. By eliminating these protections, the Republican bill lets insurance companies shift massive costs onto consumers in the form of out-of-pocket payments, such as deductibles and copayments.
“When Republican leaders made their grand statements about what their new health care scheme would achieve, they promised lower costs for the American people,” DeGette said. “But when it comes to deductibles, Republicans are all talk and no action. Despite their numerous complaints throughout the markup that deductibles are too high under the ACA, their repeal bill rolls back rules that prevent insurance companies from charging patients even more. So if you don’t like your deductible now, you’re going to hate what you get under Trumpcare.”