Cole Statement on Passage of the American Health Care Act
May 4, 2017
Washington, D.C. – Congressman Tom Cole (OK-04) released the following statement after the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 1628, the American Health Care Act (AHCA), by a vote of 217-213.
“It’s painfully obvious that the Affordable Care Act is not working,” said Cole. “Premiums have risen through the roof, patient choices have dwindled, and taxes and penalties have increased dramatically. While the legislation we passed today isn’t a perfect solution, it will increase choices, reduce costs, and give consumers greater flexibility.
“Oklahoma has been especially hit hard by Obamacare,” continued Cole. “The state currently has only one insurer and people in rural areas have lost their doctors. The legislation we passed today will provide a market-based health care system that will also give states more options to tailor their health care systems to better suit the needs of their citizens.
“This legislation will certainly undergo changes as it moves through the legislative process, but there are solid provisions that will ensure healthcare is more affordable. We’ve included tax credits to provide flexible payment options and given states the authority to modernize and strengthen Medicaid. The burdens of the employer and individual mandates will be nullified, and block grants will be at the discretion of the states. Further, it includes a $15 billion fund to help states provide subsidies for high-risk patients, which will help stabilize the market for these patients.
“Significantly, those with pre-existing conditions are guaranteed protection in the American Health Care Act. Patients with pre-existing conditions will not be denied insurance, nor should they ever be. To ensure that insurance remains affordable for patients with pre-existing conditions, we’ve included an $8 billion fund to help offset premiums costs for those patients.
“The new system also retains some of the effective provisions of the Affordable Care Act, including allowing those under 26 years old to stay on their parents’ plans.
“Finally, in order to make sure that Members of Congress and congressional staff are subject to the same regulations as all Americans, we also passed a stand-alone bill, H.R. 2192, to ensure this remains the case.
“As the American Health Care Act is now sent to the Senate, Americans should be aware that the legislative process is not finished. The Senate will certainly have the opportunity to amend, and hopefully improve, the legislation passed by the House. I look forward to its passage by the Senate and its ultimate signing by the President,” concluded Cole.