A day after meeting with President Trump, Republican U.S. Rep. Andy Barr of Lexington told constituents Saturday that he would vote for the health-reform bill proposed by leaders of his party because it is the only alternative to Democrats’ 2010 reform law.
Asked if he would vote against the bill, “I’m not going to vote no on something that’s better than the status quo. I’m going to vote yes enthusiastically.”
Barr met with about 150 people at Eastern Kentucky University in Richmond, reports Kevin Wheatley of Spectrum News: “Many in the audience repeatedly jeered and interrupted as Barr defended aspects of both proposals and touched on other topics like climate change and banking reform.”
The meeting came the day after Barr and several other Republicans met in the Oval Office with Trump, who said they all had been planning to vote against the bill, or “maybe” vote no. But as a result of discussions that will lead to changes in the bill, including work requirements for able-bodied Medicaid members without dependents, “Every single person in this room is now a yes,” Trump said.
“Barr said the bill will lower health insurance costs for many, provide people with more choices and will eliminate a government mandate to buy insurance,” Daniel Desrochers reports for the Lexington Herald-Leader.
“He said the bill keeps some popular elements of Obamacare, which he called a disaster, such as ensuring coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and allowing children to stay on their parent’s insurance plans until they turn 26. Plus, Barr said, the bill would reduce the federal deficit and would cut taxes by $600 billion.”
“The audience wasn’t buying it,” Desrochers reports. “They cited a report issued by the Congressional Budget Office that said about 24 million people would lose health coverage, either in the private marketplace or through Medicaid, under the Republican proposal. They also cited studies that showed the bill would significantly raise health care costs for older and low-income Americans.”
Barr said the non-partisan CBO wrongly predicted enrollment under the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, and noted that Republicans have two more instruments to change the law: administrative regulations and a second bill that, unlike the current one, will be subject to a filibuster in the Senate.
The current bill would end the expansion of Medicaid to people with incomes up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. Barr’s 6th District has 75,100 people on expansion Medicaid, including the son of a woman who asked Barr about her son. “If your son is currently enrolled in Medicaid, he won’t be taken off,” Barr replied.
Desrochers writes, “That is true, but many Medicaid recipients have incomes that vary from year to year and could potentially lose coverage if they take a job that doesn’t last long.”
Barr told Wheatley after the meeting, “There is some concern, as was voiced in our town hall today, that older Americans who are not yet Medicare-eligible but aren’t getting health care through work, they may need a stepped-up tax credit in order to afford the higher level of costs associated with their health plan,” he said. “That is another change that could be made.”
Here is Wheatley’s report: