One Republican member of Congress thinks patients with pre-existing conditions should move to another state if their current state denies them coverage.
House Republican leaders are running into trouble gathering votes for the American Health Care Act (Trumpcare), given a controversial new amendment added to the legislation last week. The MacArthur Amendment — authored by Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-New Jersey) — allows states to ultimately decide what is and what isn’t “essential” coverage that must be included in all health insurance plans sold within a given state. This could mean that patients with pre-existing conditions could be denied coverage depending on what a state government decides is or isn’t an essential benefit.
One of the MacArthur Amendment’s loudest supporters is Rep. Robert Pittenger (R-North Carolina). According to Talking Points Memo’s Alice Ollstein, Rep. Pittenger is unswayed by critics who deem the amendment unnecessarily cruel to people who suffer from pre-existing conditions. In a conversation with reporters present, Rep. Pittenger had a blunt answer for a journalist who asked if patients with pre-existing conditions would pay more for their health insurance under the current version of Trumpcare.
“People can go to the state that they want to live in,” Pittenger said. “States have all kinds of different policies and there are disparities among states for many things: driving restrictions, alcohol, whatever. We’re putting choices back in the hands of the states.”
While the MacArthur Amendment was endorsed by the hard-right House Freedom Caucus, its passage is dependent on the support of more moderate Republicans in order to have a chance at making it to President Trump’s desk. Recently, Rep. Fred Upton (R-Michigan) announced his opposition to the new version of the American Health Care Act, jeopardizing its chances of getting passed to the Senate.
Pressure from influential groups could also prove to be a difficult hurdle. The American Association of Retired Persons (AARP) — regarded as the go-to lobbying group for American seniors — recently announced its plans to oppose the bill in its current form. As of this writing, House Speaker Paul Ryan remains short of the necessary votes needed to win a majority for the American Health Care Act.
Jamie Green is a contributor for the Resistance Report covering the Trump administration, and lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan.