GOP Obamacare repeal bill passes House; Coffman is only Colorado GOP ‘no’ vote

GOP Obamacare repeal bill passes House; Coffman is only Colorado GOP ‘no’ vote

UPDATE: The bill passed. Here is the vote breakdown for Colorado’s congressional delegation:

Coffman (R): No

Lamborn (R): Yes

Tipton (R): Yes

Buck (R): Yes

Polis (D): No

DeGette (D): No

Perlmutter (D): No

Republican Congressman Mike Coffman of Aurora became the only Republican member of Congress from Colorado to vote against the latest GOP plan to repeal Obamacare. The bill passed the House 217-213, with one member not voting.

The fifth-term congressman, up for re-election next year, said this in a statement prior to the vote.

“At this time, I cannot support the AHCA with the MacArthur amendment because I’m concerned that a small percentage of those with preexisting conditions may still not be protected. This does not take away from the fact that the Affordable Care Act is failing and American families are hurting. In my conversations with House leadership and the Administration over the last 72 hours, I made it clear that additional language was necessary to protect this vulnerable group. And I’m sympathetic to leadership’s challenge — getting 216 votes in this highly polarized political environment isn’t easy. Also, as I have stated in the past, I’m certainly not going to vote on a bill of this magnitude that hasn’t been fully scored by the Congressional Budget Office and whose estimated price tag is unknown.”

The MacArthur amendment is a measure by New Jersey Republican Tom MacArthur that allows states to apply for waivers to some of the law’s requirements, such as protections for pre-existing conditions. “That means it could be costlier for some consumers who are sicker but cheaper for those who are younger and healthier,” reports PolitiFact. “Currently under the Affordable Care Act, premiums can only vary based on certain conditions such as where people live, their age and whether they use tobacco.”

Coffman’s distance from the latest Republican effort to crush former Democratic President Barack Obama’s signature health care reform law is a reversal from the last time. On March 24, Coffman, who represents a suburban Denver district that is slightly more favorable to Democrats, signaled his support for a Trump-RyanCare repeal-and-replace proposal that never made it to a vote.

Related: Between Trump, Kochs and his constituents, Coffman was caught on a vote that never happened

As the battle of the bill raged throughout that day in Washington in March, many eyes were on Coffman, who called the GOP’s Trump-RyanCare plan “the best compromise” House Republicans could get before sending it to the Senate. In the end, it turned out House Republicans did not have the votes to pass the bill, an embarrassment for President Donald Trump and Republican leaders who have promised to dismantle the Affordable Care Act for nearly a decade.

About three weeks after his stated support for the doomed health care repeal bill, Coffman was back in his district where he held a town hall meeting dominated by the subject. Angry constituent after angry constituent rose to register shock that their congressman would support the ill-fated American Health Care Act as the room boomed with roars and applause.

During the town hall event, a home-care worker asked Coffman if he would support a future health care bill that would eliminate protections for people with preexisting conditions.

“I will protect those with pre-existing conditions. … I will maintain that commitment,” Coffman told her.

Related: Mike Coffman is a slippery target at an angry town hall in Colorado

The Denver Post’s Washington, D.C. correspondent reports Coffman was lobbied Thursday before noon Mountain Time by both Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

As of May 3, media reported Coffman was “leaning” toward a yes vote on the latest GOP health care overhaul plan, but said he wanted “to see more protection for pre-existing conditions or he’ll vote against sending the bill to the Senate.”

The health care bill, called The American Health Care Act, “would likely cause millions to lose health insurance coverage,” according to an explanation of the law at Vox.com. The new law would phase out Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, strip the individual mandate tax on those who aren’t insured, and cut taxes for the wealthy, the outlet reported, writing, “the replacement plan benefits people who are healthy and high-income, and disadvantages those who are sicker and lower-income.”

Colorado’s Democratic congressional delegation, Jared Polis, Diana DeGette and Ed Perlmutter, had said they would vote no.

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About the Author

Corey Hutchins

is a journalist in Colorado, and Columbia Journalism Review's Rocky Mountain correspondent for the United States Project. Follow him on Twitter @CoreyHutchins and email him at CoreyHutchins [at] gmail [dot] com.

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