U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance (R-Clinton), a leader in New Jersey politics for the past two decades, told CNN today he will vote no on the Republican House bill to replace the Affordable Care Act in the bill’s current form.
In Lance’s district, which includes all of Hunterdon County and portions of Morris, Union and Somerset counties, including Rocky Hill, Montgomery and Hillsborough, New Jersey Policy Perspective estimates that repealing the Medicaid expansion, which this legislation basically does after 2020, would leave about 22,000 constituents without coverage and lead to the loss of $124 million in federal funding a year.
“Rep. Lance and other Congressional Republicans are getting cold feet about repealing the Affordable Care Act, and not a moment too soon,” said Jon Whiten, vice president of New Jersey Policy Perspective. “Under this proposal, 24 million Americans would lose health coverage, Medicaid as we know it would be destroyed, Medicare would be weakened and many Americans would pay more for worse coverage – all so the nation’s wealthiest families can get a huge tax cut. Whatever Rep. Lance’s reasoning, we are heartened to see him taking this important step toward protecting health care for hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans.”
Previously, Lance joined with other Republicans on the Energy and Commerce Committee to advance the measure. Hundreds of his constituents have been gathering weekly at his district offices and thousands attended town halls to urge him to vote no on the replacement bill.
The Congressional Budget Office released a report yesterday detailing the effects of the proposed changes in the new legislation.
The office estimates that enacting the legislation would reduce federal deficits by $337 billion over the 2017-2026 period. That total consists of $323 billion in on-budget savings and $13 billion in off-budget savings. Outlays would be reduced by $1.2 trillion over the period, and revenues would be reduced by $0.9 trillion.
The largest savings would come from reductions in outlays for Medicaid and from the elimination of the Affordable Care Act’s subsidies for non-group health insurance. The largest costs would come from repealing many of the changes the Affordable Care Act made to the Internal Revenue Code—including an increase in the hospital insurance payroll tax rate for high-income taxpayers, a surtax on those taxpayers’ net investment income, and annual fees imposed on health insurers—and from the establishment of a new tax credit for health insurance.
In 2018, 14 million more people would be uninsured under the legislation than under current law. Most of that increase would stem from repealing the penalties associated with the individual mandate. Some of those people would choose not to have insurance because they chose to be covered by insurance under current law only to avoid paying the penalties, and some people would forgo insurance in response to higher premiums.
Later, following additional changes to subsidies for insurance purchased in the non-group market and to the Medicaid program, the increase in the number of uninsured people relative to the number under current law would rise to 21 million in 2020 and then to 24 million in 2026. The reductions in insurance coverage between 2018 and 2026 would stem in large part from changes in Medicaid enrollment—because some states would discontinue their expansion of eligibility, some states that would have expanded eligibility in the future would choose not to do so, and per-enrollee spending in the program would be capped. In 2026, an estimated 52 million people would be uninsured, compared with 28 million who would lack insurance that year under current law. Read the full report here.
The House GOP bill has made moderates Republicans uneasy about the prospects of voting for a proposal that increasingly appears dead on arrival in the U.S. Senate.
Lance, a moderate Democrats believe will be vulnerable in 2018, told CNN he believes the House bill will fail in the Senate. Lance said he doesn’t want to support legislation that would be rejected by his Republican colleagues.
“I do not want to vote on a bill that has no chance of passing over in the Senate,” Lance said. “The CBO score has modified the dynamics.”
Lance said House leaders must make changes to the bill and find a version that can survive in the Senate.