The U.S. House of Representatives today, on a vote of 217-20 (with 1 member not voting) passed the American Health Care Act, a bill to replace Obamacare.
Congressman James Clyburn (D-SC) was the only member of the South Carolina congressional delegation to vote "no" on the measure.
“I think it’s important to recognize this vote for what it is: a vote to continue the conversation about where we go next on healthcare," said U.S. Rep. Mark Sanford (R-SC) after voting to pass the bill. "The Senate may or may not act on all or parts of the bill, and if they do, it will come back to the House for yet another vote. Most significantly, it’s my hope that this will ultimately serve as a first step in the process of getting toward a sustainable healthcare system. It is not a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act, but the bill’s architecture does work to lower costs, increase choice, and cultivate a more competitive health insurance marketplace while providing protections for those with pre-existing conditions."
Clyburn disagreed with Sanford, saying before the vote that, "passing this bill would turn the clock back on civil rights and civility.”
Congressman Trey Gowdy (R-SC) touted his vote for the legislation, highlighting the bill's protection of health care for people with pre-existing conditions.
"It is important we are able to take care of our families, especially those with pre-existing conditions," said Gowdy. "The American Health Care Act ensures under no circumstance can people be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition."
Added Gowdy, "Today I voted for the American Health Care Act to support the first step of a three-step process of ensuring every American has access to quality, patient-centered health care. I look forward to continue working with my colleagues in Congress and those in the Administration to provide all Americans with access to high quality health care and health insurance.”
Rep. Jeff Duncan, who benefited from a recent ad campaign by America First Policies touting his support for repealing Obamacare, noted the shortcomings of Obamacare, saying it was a law that "increased costs, created fewer choices, and was filled with broken promises."
“The American people were loud and clear in November – it is imperative that we deliver on our promise to get the government out of health care and relieve the massive burden Obamacare has been on individuals, families, and businesses," said Duncan.
House Speaker Paul Ryan gave credit, in part, to former South Carolina Congressman Mick Mulvaney — now the director of the U.S. Office of Management and Budget — for his work in helping to craft the legislation.
Ryan also noted that the current law has led to a shortage of health care plans in some states.
“Just this week, just this week, we learned of another state—Iowa—where the last remaining health care plan is pulling out of 94 of their 99 counties, leaving most of their citizens with no plans on the Obama market at all," said Ryan.
In South Carolina, the amount of insurers offering plans under Obamacare has become a concern. In 2016, Aetna and United Healthcare both announced they would pull out of the Palmetto State's Obamacare exchanges, becoming one of five states to have only one company (Blue Cross Blue Shield) offering health insurance the exchanges.
“What kind of protection is Obamacare if there are no plans to choose from? And this is a trend that we’re seeing all across the country?" asked Ryan. “The truth is this law has failed, and it is collapsing. Premiums are skyrocketing and choices are disappearing. And it is only getting worse, spiraling out of control."
The legislation now heads to the Senate, where many expect a group of senators to introduce their own Obamacare replacement bill.
President Trump expressed confidence the bill would pass the Senate.
"We’re going to get this passed through the Senate. I feel so confident," said Trump. "Right now, the insurance companies are fleeing. It’s been a catastrophe. And this is a great plan. Make no mistake, this is a repeal and replace of Obamacare."