Roe: House health bill is better

Hank Hayes • Jun 29, 2017 at 5:30 PM

The “big knock” on the U.S. Senate proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA) is that it doesn’t do enough to lower insurance premiums, U.S. Rep. Phil Roe said in a conference call with reporters on Thursday.

Roe, R-Tenn., said he wasn’t surprised with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s decision to postpone a vote on the measure until after July 4.

“We took a whiff back in March and had to have some more work,” Roe said of the House version of the healthcare bill that finally passed in late May. “They’re going to have to do the same thing. I think the House bill is a better bill. They have a little less leeway on the Senate side. They can only lose two votes. They have to get 50 people to agree. We had to get 217 to agree. Both are a hard lift, but I think they will get it done. Then I hope we will go to (a) conference (committee) and have a better bill.

“I am disappointed it is not a bipartisan bill. I wish the Democrats would step forward. I certainly invite them to. They chose not to participate. It’s disappointing, but it is what it is. … They are so married to the ACA that, quite frankly, we can’t get past that. The ACA … since 2013 in the state of Tennessee, our premiums are up 176 percent. We used to think 10 percent was a big increase. … That’s for an average family. That’s up $4,500 dollars a year … 159,000 families in our state paid the (individual mandate) penalty. They couldn’t afford to buy it. … The bottom line is we have to do this (repeal and replace the ACA). People out here are going to suffer if we don’t fix this problem.”

Why is the House bill better bill?

“One, the big knock on the Senate bill … I don’t think they do enough to lower premiums,” Roe responded. “What we did for people with pre-existing conditions, the House bill will actually lower premiums. I think that’s the biggest problem.”

When will a final healthcare bill get through Congress?

“I know we would like to have this done by the August recess. … Health care is so important. … If it gets hammered out, we will stay here,” Roe said.

Do you think the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) numbers are not reflective of what will happen with the actual bill?

“I do. The reason I do is the assumption they’ve made, the 22 million (who will lose coverage) or whatever the number is. … Their assumption is once you’ve taken the (individual) mandate (to buy coverage) away, people won’t buy health insurance,” Roe stressed.

Why does the CBO assume millions and millions of people won’t seek coverage?

“What they have to do is take the law as is and then make an assumption based on the law. They can’t assume how people behave. … It’s not logical, but it’s the way they have to do it,” Roe noted.

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