South Carolina’s Republican lawmakers saw the House’s passing of the newly revived American Health Care Act on Thursday as a step in the right direction towards improving health care.
“This is a rising sun moment for the country as we made progress in rolling back President Obama’s health care law that increased costs, created fewer choices and was filled with broken promises,” said Rep. Jeff Duncan on Facebook Thursday.
The bill slid by with a 217 to 213 vote. All House Democrats opposed it while 20 Republicans voted against it.
The previous version of the AHCA died before reaching the House floor due to a lack of votes.
As the bill heads to the Senate floor, it would face more changes and could be more difficult to pass, as there’s a narrower Republican majority, 52 to 48. Senators, including South Carolina’s Tim Scott and Lindsey Graham, are also expected to stress-test the bill and could seek changes.
House Republicans pushed the bill to a vote before the Congressional Budget Office had a chance analyze the cost and impact of it, something Graham saw as a case for caution.
“My primary duty and job is to ensure this bill – if it were to become law – would be beneficial to the people of South Carolina,” Graham said in a statement. “Only after a careful review of the legislation, as well as discussions with the interested stakeholders across South Carolina, will I know the answer to that question. I do know the revised bill is an improvement over the first attempt.”
Scott told McClatchy that the CBO score isn’t entirely reliable because of how convoluted health care law is. He said he’s happy with the effort that’s been made to improve health care.
“I’m encouraged we’re having the conversation that will help save a healthcare system that’s imploding. I mean, at the end of the day if you’re doing nothing, Obamacare comes to an end because it’s already failing,” Scott said.
He declined to say how he would vote on the legislation.
“So we’ll see what happens as we finish our bill,” Scott said.
Members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus, who were blamed for tanking the previous version of the bill, backed this version because of new amendments, including one that gives states the option of waiving the Affordable Care Act’s requirements for individual insurers to cover 10 essential health benefits.
However, states could also avoid ACA rules that prevent insurers from raising costs for people with pre-existing medical conditions. Many patient advocacy groups, including the AARP, are against the latest revival for this very reason.
Rep. Mark Sanford, a member of the Freedom Caucus, told reporters it was important to remember the seriousness of the health care bill regardless of the outcome.
“There’s a tendency to get ahead of our skis in the wake of any victory in any walk of life,” Sanford said. “Given how important healthcare is to people’s lives and the gravitas that surrounds this issue, it’s important to pay due respect and deference to people who had an opposing point of view.”
Reps. Joe Wilson and Tom Rice, who have supported the past and current versions of the bill, see it as an opportunity to lower health care costs and increase health care plan options.
Rice saw this bill as an improvement over the ACA but said there’s still work to be done to enhance it more.
Democratic Rep. Jim Clyburn was the only member of the South Carolina delegation unhappy with the bill’s passing, dubbing it the “Republicans’ Pay More For Less Health Care Plan.”
“Repealing the ACA would once again institutionalize the kind of discrimination against the sick and aged that has plagued hard working families for generations,” Clyburn said in a statement. “Passing this bill would turn the clock back on civil rights and civility.”
Rep. Trey Gowdy said it was important to take care of families with pre-existing conditions.
"The American Health Care Act ensures under no circumstance can people be denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition," Gowdy said in a statement. "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."