Iowa Republican Rep. Rod Blum told reporters just 10 feet from the entrance to the House floor Tuesday that there is no way he would vote for the American Health Care Act because it does not address the chief flaw of the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
“I have just been waiting and waiting and watching, but I am a hard No, unless the bill changes,” said Blum, a successful businessman who ran the Digital Canal software company before running for Congress. He was also a conservative columnist in Dubuque, Iowa and the Iowa Entrepreneur of the Year in 1994.
The congressman said his last conversation with Ryan about the RyanCare bill was three or four weeks ago, but he did not become a hard no until Tuesday, despite pressure from the GOP whipping operation. “I have been whipped, so now they know.”
Blum said his biggest problem with the American Health Care Act—which Speaker Paul Ryan (R.-WI) crafted with insurance company representatives, congressional staffers, and selected congressmen—is that it does not address the increases in premiums.
“I worry about how we are going to drive down health care costs for 330 million Americans–how can you do that? You need a free market of do that,” he said.
“I want such things like all the ‘Essential Benefits’ repealed, I don’t want us as the government telling the insurance companies: ‘Here is what has to be in a policy.’ Let the consumer decide that,” he said.
In addition to striking out the benefits the insurance companies are required to provide, associations and groups need to be allowed to purchase group health plans, he said.
“We need a free market,” he said. “We do not need an over-regulation of the market–our regulations are not any better than Democratic regulations.”
Blum said he dismissed excuses from the House Republican leadership that turn on Senate rules, such as the Byrd Rule, which Ryan claimed prevented him from filing a bill that repeals Obamacare. “That is what they are saying, but I have heard all sorts of conflicting reports about what can and cannot be done–I tend to say: ‘I don’t care about what can be done in the Senate.”
The congressman is a member of the House Freedom Caucus, the conservative bloc inside the House Republican Conference. Breitbart reporting pegs the number of HFC members against the RyanCare bill north of 25. With 237 Republicans in the House, Ryan cannot lose more than 21 Republicans votes to reach the 216 he needs for his amendment to Obamacare to pass. All 193 Democrats are expected to vote against the bill.