Pennsylvania Republican Rep. Lou Barletta announced Tuesday he will not support the American Health Care Act, crafted by Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) to prevent the collapse of the Obamacare exchanges.
Obamacare is destroying our health care system,” said Barletta, who is a strong conservative but not a member of the House Freedom Caucus, which is leading the fight against the speaker’s RyanCare bill.
In the House, there are 237 Republicans and 193 Democrats. All the Democrats are expected to oppose the bill, scheduled to come to the floor Thursday. Without support from House Democrats, the Republican leadership cannot have more than 21 defections, else it fails to reach the 216 votes needed to make majority.
Although the HFC does not make its membership or whip count public, Breitbart reporting puts the the HFC bloc against RyanCare at north of 25 votes.
In the past, the speaker has leveraged his personal relationship with members of the House Freedom Caucus to sideline the HFC during his bailout of the Puerto Rican government or when the caucus was ready to force the House to vote on a motion of impeachment against IRS Commissioner John Koskinen. This time, the Freedom Caucus has held firm, and its outreach to other conservatives has had mixed results.
Losing conservatives like Barletta and North Carolina’s Rep. Ted Budd mean that in addition to losing a close vote, Ryan now has to worry about losing in a landslide that would threaten his grasp on the gavel itself.
Barletta said his opposition does not mean that he supports the 2010 Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act that created Obamacare.
“The monstrosity of a health care law failed the American people by throwing them off their preferred plans, eliminating access to their favorite doctors, and sending premiums and deductibles through the roof,” he said. “In fact, the average premium in Pennsylvania increased by 32 percent this year, and in some corners premiums rose as much as 53 percent. That level of cost increase is unsustainable.”
Chief among the congressman’s concerns with the RyanCare bill are its provisions that leave open the possibility of illegal aliens participating in a RyanCare health care plan. This is a non-starter for the congressman, who has been a leading hawk on tightening immigration policies and enforcement.
“Unfortunately, after evaluating the text of the American Health Care Act, I cannot support the bill in its current form. I am concerned that the bill lacks sufficient safeguards for verifying whether or not an individual applying for health care tax credits is lawfully in this country and eligible to receive them,” he said.
“Under Obamacare, a half a million people received a total of $750 million in health care subsidies, even though the recipients could not prove their lawful presence in the United States,” he said. “I cannot vote for a replacement plan that fails to address this problem.”