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State Officials React To House Passage Of The AHCA

U.S. House members from Illinois voted lockstep with their parties Thursday on the American Health Care Act (AHCA). The plan pushed by Pres. Trump and his administration narrowly passed, 217 – 213. 20 Republicans joined all 193 Democrats in voting against the plan.

In a statement, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-16) called passage of the AHCA “the first step in repairing the damages of the Obamacare system.”

“The so-called ‘Affordable Care’ Act, Obamacare, has had a damaging effect on patient care, insurance coverage and our economy. Today, I voted to repeal and replace Obamacare, just as the American people asked for on Election Day. The AHCA puts patients back in charge of their own healthcare, and includes several layers of protection for individuals with pre-existing conditions…This legislation has several steps to go before it becomes law and we have many improvements to make. But today, I acted to move this healthcare reform forward to make real progress for my constituents and our country.”

Rep. Randy Hultgren (R-14) said in a news release that he voted for the AHCA, despite having “great concerns” about the bill, which he shared with House Speaker Paul Ryan and other leaders in the House.

“But doing nothing isn't an option, which is why I supported this amended bill as an important next step in the longer process of broader health reform that will benefit Illinois.”

Hultgren offered more details on the “layers of protection” for people with pre-existing conditions.

“I have said repeatedly I will ensure people with pre-existing conditions are protected. Under the American Health Care Act (AHCA), insurance companies can never deny someone coverage based on pre-existing conditions. This legislation requires a state to meet very specific requirements if it chooses a waiver to deliver health care that is better tailored to the needs of its population. What people are forgetting is that this much criticized provision is similar to the State Innovation Waivers already granted by standing ACA law. The AHCA provides several layers of protections for individuals with pre-existing conditions in states that get an approved waiver, with rules in place to make sure those individuals have help affording their premiums and that they maintain continuous coverage to keep their costs down. No one can be charged more if they maintain continuous coverage. Today the House also passed H.R. 2192, which applies state waiver rules to Congress and congressional staff.”

Hultgren emphasized this is not the final bill and certainly not law yet, and he has faith in the U.S. Senate and the Trump administration to improve the legislation.

Rep. Bill Foster (D-11) released a statement saying he was proud to vote against the AHCA.

“The passage of this bill is a tragic symbolic victory; it stands no chance in the Senate. Republicans had an obligation from day one to inform the American people of this legislation’s contents. Instead, they chose to craft it behind closed doors with no transparency for the people they were elected to serve. For seven years, Republicans promised us something better than the Affordable Care Act. In the end, this plan revealed these promises were simply not true. I urge the people that are going to be hurt by this bill to make their voices known as it makes its way through the Senate.”

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner weighed in on passage of the AHCA. He said it “continues to be of deep concern to our administration." 

"Recent changes did not address fundamental concerns about the bill’s impact on the 650,000 individuals that are part of our Medicaid expansion population, nor have those changes eased the concerns of the 350,000 people in the individual market who are dealing with skyrocketing premiums and fewer choices. We will continue to voice our concerns as the law moves to the Senate.”

Susan is an award-winning reporter/writer at her favorite radio station. She's also WNIJ's Perspectives editor, Under Rocks contributor, and local host of All Things Considered.
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