These Washington Republicans aren’t feeling Trump’s health plan | KUOW News and Information

These Washington Republicans aren’t feeling Trump’s health plan

Mar 23, 2017

Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, a Washington state Republican, knows what it’s like to have a sick kid.

Her little Abigail was born in 2013 without kidneys and was able to live because of multi-million dollar, cutting edge treatments — paid for by Medicare and health insurance, according to ABC News.

Beutler has said she favors repealing the Affordable Care Act, but on Thursday she said she opposed the Republican plan to replace it. She cited “the difficulties this bill would create for millions of children.”

“I will not vote to let those kids fall through the cracks,” her statement said.

Meantime, Rep. Dave Reichert of Auburn appears to be wavering. Reichert is now undecided on the GOP plan, according to a spokesperson, despite his committee vote for a version of it.  

Beutler and Reichert joined dozens of other Republicans who are wavering on the bill.

Health policy experts say the timing of this debate — regardless of the final legislation — could inject chaos into next year's insurance market. That’s because insurance companies face a May 1 deadline to file their coverage plans with states.

“We may have a meltdown in the individual market in 2018 as a result of pure lack of predictability resulting from the way Republicans in Congress are handling this," said D.J. Wilson, CEO of the nonpartisan health policy group State of Reform.

Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, Republican from Clark County in southwestern Washington state, with her husband Dan Beutler and their baby Abigail in 2013. Abigail is the first baby to survive without kidneys.
Credit File photo courtesy of the Beutler family

Hospitals and insurance companies largely oppose the Republican plan. Wilson said insurers have lobbied against it, and they have had an impact on the debate in Congress.

In a statement, Beutler said she was committed to a repeal but that the GOP plan fell short.

However she said she does support changes to coverage for able-bodied adults who were eligible for the Medicaid expansion. She testified Wednesday before the House Rules Committee that Medicaid is a "safety net" program that is overburdened.

"We can hear the creaking. We can hear it breaking," she said. 

Beutler urged action on “free market reforms that increase competition between insurance providers and drive down premiums and deductibles” and said taxes levied under Obamacare should be quickly repealed.

Reichert said in a recent interview on KCTS that he was committed to the "repeal and replace" strategy. Wilson said Reichert is one of a couple dozen Republicans who were elected to Congress in districts that voted for Hillary Clinton for president.

"They're in a really tough spot," Wilson said of the lawmakers, "in a district that probably — generally — supports the Affordable Care Act."

“Each month you can track changes in the conversation that I think are informed by lobbying from the insurance community," he said. "The perfect example is the ‘repeal and replace’ strategy versus repeal alone.”

House Democrat Pramila Jayapal, who represents Seattle, opposes the Republican plan and hailed the delayed vote as good news.

“I think it is an enormous victory for the American people and people who have been fighting to say this is a bad plan," Jayapal said. "I think the reality is that the whole bill is deeply flawed.”

Jayapal said she's spoken to Republican colleagues who also oppose the legislation, and they do not see a path forward right now.

“Listening to some of them talk, you can’t tell who’s a Republican and who’s a Democrat because the messages have been similar from those of us who feel that this bill is really going to be so detrimental to so many people," Jayapal said.

She said they're concerned about a lack of treatment for mental health issues and opioid addiction, among other provisions.

She said the delayed vote made for a subdued atmosphere in Congress Thursday.

“It’s been a strange day because it’s been very quiet," she said. "Because we all thought we were going to have votes, so a lot of us didn’t schedule a huge number of meetings.  

KUOW's Paige Browning contributed to this report.

To understand where lawmakers in Congress stand as this debate continues, NPR will update this tracker as we collect new statements from members. If you spot errors or have comments, please use the form here.