Congress

GOP bill to repeal health care law has yet to win any votes from Idaho Republicans

Rep. Raúl Labrador, R-Idaho, right, opposes a GOP bill unveiled this week that would repeal the landmark 2010 health care law, but he says he’s eager to negotiate with President Donald Trump to make the legislation better. Here, Labrador confers with Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, at a meeting of the House Judiciary Committee on Feb. 28, 2017.
Rep. Raúl Labrador, R-Idaho, right, opposes a GOP bill unveiled this week that would repeal the landmark 2010 health care law, but he says he’s eager to negotiate with President Donald Trump to make the legislation better. Here, Labrador confers with Rep. Jason Chaffetz, R-Utah, at a meeting of the House Judiciary Committee on Feb. 28, 2017. AP

A bill to repeal the landmark 2010 health care law has strong backing from President Donald Trump, but it has yet to win any support from the four Republicans in Idaho’s congressional delegation.

A day after Rep. Raúl Labrador said he opposed the bill, a spokeswoman for Rep. Mike Simpson said Thursday that he was undecided. Both of the state’s senators, Mike Crapo and Jim Risch, are still studying the legislation.

Republicans plan to move the bill to the full House of Representatives for a vote in the coming weeks after it cleared the House Ways and Means Committee on Thursday.

But its fate is uncertain, with Labrador and many other members of the conservative House Freedom Caucus opposing it.

President Donald Trump said on Tuesday he's "proud" to support the House Republican health care bill and hopes Congress will pass it very quickly.

“They sent me to Washington to get rid of Obamacare and replace it with something that will, once and for all, create a health care system that allows the market to deliver lower costs and focus on patients,” Labrador said in a statement. “I have spent the last two days studying the American Health Care Act, and unfortunately, it is not that bill.”

Labrador noted that Trump has “signaled his willingness to negotiate,” adding that it’s important “to get it right.”

“I’m eager to take him up on this offer,” Labrador said. “All good legislative solutions must go through rigorous debate, and I’m willing to work with the leadership in the House, and the president, to find a solution to this critical problem. What I won’t do is break the pledge I made to the people of Idaho who sent me here to fix this.”

Nikki Wallace, Simpson’s spokeswoman, said the congressman was still reviewing the bill.

“The committees of jurisdiction are considering the legislation as we speak, so it is still early in the process,” she said.

But she added that the bill has many “encouraging provisions” that Simpson has previously supported, including protections for patients with pre-existing conditions and language allowing young adults to stay on their parents’ insurance until they are 26. Both those provisions were enacted as part of Obamacare.

“Make no mistake, health care reform will be hard,” Wallace said. “But to stand idly by and watch Americans absorb 25 percent premium increases and allow millions of Americans to only have one insurance plan to choose from is simply unacceptable.”

Some popular plans on the Affordable Care Act insurance marketplace in 38 states saw premiums jump by an average 25 percent this year, though most buyers qualify for ACA tax subsidies. In several states, meanwhile, people on the Obamacare marketplace now have just one insurance company from which to choose.

With the Senate yet to take up the legislation, Risch and Crapo are waiting to take positions.

“Sen. Crapo is reading and studying the House bill carefully. He will make a determination once the House has completed its work and sends a bill to the Senate,” said Robert Sumner, Crapo’s spokesman.

Kaylin Minton, a spokeswoman for Risch, said the senator “is reading and studying the bill carefully.”

Rob Hotakainen: 202-383-6154, @HotakainenRob

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