PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) — Republicans lawmakers celebrated a victory Thursday as the U.S. House approved an amended version of their health care bill and moved one step closer to replacing President Barack Obama’s Affordable Care Act.
Thursday’s vote has some relieved, while others are already worried about what it means for the future.
“It’s going to be devastating to so many people,” said Brenda Cotnoir. “It really is.”
Cotnoir was among a group of people who gathered at the Rhode Island Statehouse Thursday to speak out against the plan. She said she was able to get a hip replacement under the Affordable Care Act, but afterwards her pain got so bad she could no longer sleep.
“My copay has been very reasonable actually,” she said. “There’s no way that I could have afforded this on my own.”
Approximately 100,000 Rhode Islanders get health insurance through the Affordable Care Act, including 30,000 through the state’s Obamacare portal, HealthSource RI.
“96 percent of Rhode Islanders are currently insured. We’ve managed to bring the uninsured rate down from 11 percent to 4.5 percent,” said Lindsay Lang, HealthSource RI’s chief of staff.
One local group that was happy about the bill’s passage was the Rhode Island Center for Freedom and Prosperity. Mike Stenhouse, the group’s executive director, said Thursday was a great day for Rhode Islanders, who are now on their way to healthcare freedom.
He also argued that the things people are worried about are myths and understandings.
Cotnoir, on the other hand, said she’s worried that if the GOP health care bill becomes law, it would keep people with preexisting conditions like her from getting help.
“It’s going to leave so many people unprotected,” she said.
The GOP bill still has some large hurdles to overcome, the most notable being the U.S. Senate.
“I’m hoping that the Senate has more common sense than the House did,” added Cotnoir.
Prior to Thursday’s vote, Democratic Congressman David Cicilline delivered an impassioned speech on the House floor, saying he believes thousands of people will die if the bill passes.
Cicilline released a statement following the vote on Thursday, along with his fellow Rhode Island representatives in Washington.
Congressman David Cicilline:
“This is the cruelest and most immoral thing I’ve seen the Republican Party do to the American people. They just passed a bill that they know will result in the deaths of thousands of working people each year. I don’t know how they sleep at night.”
U.S. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse:
“All you need to know about this bill is that Republicans tried to exempt themselves from it before they got caught. That’s because they know it’s a raw deal. This legislation sets us on a path to the bad old days when insurance companies could refuse coverage to those with preexisting conditions and deny people health benefits that should be in every plan – like maternity and mental health care. And while the House Republicans jammed it through before the Congressional Budget Office had a chance to tell us how much this bill will cost or how many people will lose coverage, every indication is that it will leave millions of Americans without access to affordable health insurance. Rhode Islanders rely on the Affordable Care Act and it’s working here. If they want to improve it, that’s one thing, but this House bill will hurt Rhode Islanders.”
Congressman Jim Langevin:
“When Republicans brought the AHCA to the floor in March, they could not even hold a vote due to the immense unpopularity of its measures attacking Americans’ health care. Remarkably, their response was to double down and further erode patient protections included as part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). It is unconscionable that House Republicans have forced through a bill in the service of a purely partisan political goal at the expense of their constituents’ health. Rather than collaborate in a bipartisan manner to improve upon the ACA, Republicans have opted to support an initiative that will exacerbate issues of affordability and access for Rhode Islanders and all Americans.”
“An estimated 24 million people will lose health coverage under this bill, among them many of the 20 million Americans and 100,000 Rhode Islanders who gained access to health insurance thanks to the ACA. The legislation will once again allow discrimination against patients with pre-existing conditions and authorize the elimination of essential benefits, including maternity care, under the guise of state flexibility. The ACHA will increase costs for seniors, shift the expense of expanded Medicaid coverage to states, and create huge tax breaks for the wealthy while low- to middle-income adults pay more for less coverage.
“The AARP, American Medical Association, American Nurses Association, American Hospital Association, American College of Physicians, American Academy of Family Physicians, National Nurses United and the American Academy of Pediatrics and many others have come out in opposition to this legislation because it would prevent Americans across the country from receiving quality, affordable care. I hope that my colleagues in the Senate will take the time to understand the devastating implications of this bill and end the misguided Republican crusade to dismantle the ACA.”
U.S. Sen. Jack Reed:
“First, House Republicans failed to pass a terrible Trumpcare bill. Today, they managed to pass an even worse Trumpcare bill that fails the American people.
“This bill is bad for public health. The way it treats seniors, veterans, and our most vulnerable citizens is a disgrace. It will have a detrimental impact on people in nursing homes and those who need Medicaid to help pay for long-term health needs.
“It is alarming that House Republicans approved legislation knowing it would harm our economy, our health care system, and their own constituents.
“They rushed the vote to try to hide just how bad their bill is. But the fact that House Republicans sought to exempt themselves speaks volumes.
“Their Trumpcare bill shifts a greater burden onto states and working families in favor of tax cuts for the wealthy and special interests. It would deprive coverage to the most vulnerable and decimate state budgets. It will erode critical consumer protections and hurt people with pre-existing conditions. It brings us back to the days when people with pre-existing conditions were priced out of the market and the plans available didn’t actually cover basic services like maternity care.
“I will do everything I can to protect Rhode Islanders and prevent this bad bill from becoming a bad law.”