The U.S. House of Representatives voted to pass the American Health Care Act Thursday.
The bill will move to the U.S. Senate for consideration.
Here is how some of New Jersey’s leaders, both elected and industry officials, reacted to the news.
Sen. Joe Vitale (D-Woodbridge)
“Once again, the Republicans are trying to push through a proposal that is sure to have a devastating impact on millions of Americans and their ability to afford and access health care.
“Pushing their agenda hastily without the benefit of an updated Congressional Budget Office score and within 24 hours after final amendments were posted is not only suspect, but it strips Americans of their right to have this plan fairly scrutinized.
“Without any analysis or proper review, we don’t know the implications of this new bill, how much it would cost or who it would cover.
“What we do know is that the revised bill eliminates protections for those with pre-existing health conditions by allowing states to seek waivers from the ACA’s current requirement that insurers charge people the same for coverage regardless any pre-existing conditions.
“We know that it will hamper our efforts to fight addiction in New Jersey, our leading public health crisis, by chipping away at all our efforts to expand mental health care and substance abuse treatment.
“Hundreds of thousands of New Jersey’s most vulnerable residents could lose coverage if the Medicaid expansion is eliminated as is planned under this proposal.
“Per capita caps or block grants would cause the most harm to our disabled population, and would not sustain our efforts to expand support services that allow these individuals to lead the fullest lives possible.
“Our Congressional delegates who voted for this bill are foolish to support such a proposal. Representing the needs of New Jersey residents should be first and foremost, and a vote in favor of this bill is in direct conflict with what our residents deserve.”
Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt (D-Vorhees)
“I am appalled by the House Republican’s vote on the American Health Care Act. By repealing protections that were put in place by the 2010 Affordable Care Act, nearly 509,000 New Jerseyans would be left without insurance. This plan would do nothing to make healthcare more affordable for women and families who have seen costs drop thanks to the Affordable Care Act. The effect would be quite the opposite, with sweeping premium hikes for our working families.
“Women would be among the hardest hit by these reforms. Under this plan, women would see increases to their health costs, from higher premiums on women of childbearing age to price hikes on elderly women, who are statistically more likely to live in poverty than their male counterpart.
“Among the most dangerous and destructive elements of this bill is the freeze on Medicaid expansion. By denying coverage to those who need it the most, working women and men will be forced to make the hard choice between keeping the lights on and paying for their family’s medical needs.
“If this legislation is signed into law, healthcare costs will skyrocket for residents throughout our state. I urge the Senate to weigh any potential cost savings that this bill may have against the well-being of their constituents and vote no.”
Ray Castro, direct of health policy, New Jersey Policy Perspective
“Today Congressmen Frelinghuysen and MacArthur put their political party ahead of the health care of tens of thousands of their own constituents by voting to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with a wholly inadequate substitute that will eviscerate Medicaid, drive up insurance premiums and gut consumer protections for people with pre-existing conditions. Thankfully, they were the lone New Jersey Representatives to do so, with the other 10 members – including fellow Republican Congressmen Lance, LoBiondo and Smith – rightly seeing this legislation for what it is: An attack on the health, well-being and economic security of hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans.
“Despite the doublespeak down in D.C., none of the amendments and last-minute additions – including Rep. MacArthur’s own – made this bill substantively better. And they are all built on a faulty foundation of a proposal that strips health care from 24 million Americans, drives up premiums and shifts costs to the states – all in order to deliver massive tax cuts for the wealthiest families.”
Statement from U.S. Sen. Bob Menendez
“When Republicans first failed at repealing the Affordable Care Act, they could have come to the table to work with Democrats on a bipartisan bill to make the law better. Instead, they doubled-down on a plan that will drive up health care costs for all Americans, strip coverage away from 24 million people, and abandon guaranteed protections for people with pre-existing conditions.I cannot fathom what moral compass guides these representatives to treat their own constituents so cruelly, other than hatred towards a president who is no longer in office. What I do know is that with this vote, House Republicans have shown they never intended to make our health care system more affordable, efficient, or accountable to the American people.
“As a senior member of the Finance Committee, I am ready to fight tooth and nail to defend the people whose lives depend on the Affordable Care Act and the hard-won gains it delivered to America’s families – all of whom deserve the ability to visit a doctor without fear of being sent into bankruptcy.
“Sen. Menendez will visit Hackensack University Medical Center tomorrow to meet with patients, their families and other New Jersey constituents who stand to lose their healthcare coverage under the GOP repeal bill.”
HHS Sec. Tom Price
“The status quo is failing the American people. Premiums are skyrocketing; choices are narrowing or vanishing; and patients do not have access to the care they need. Today, the House of Representatives has begun to deliver on President Trump’s promise to repeal a broken law and replace it with solutions that put patients in charge. This is a victory for the American people.
“The American Health Care Act is focused on patients. It is the first step toward a patient-centered healthcare system that will provide Americans access to quality, affordable healthcare coverage, empowering individuals and families to choose the coverage that best meets their needs, not what Washington forces them to buy, and equipping states to address the diverse needs of their most vulnerable populations. As Congress continues its work, the team at HHS will continue to support the reform effort by reviewing and initiating administrative actions to put patients, families and doctors in charge of medical decisions, bring down costs, and increase choices.”
Betsy Ryan, CEO and president, New Jersey Hospital Association
“This is a very sad day for those of us committed to the health of the American people. Today, the House passed a bill that endangers the well-being of at least 24 million Americans whose health insurance is now in jeopardy.
“Our hope is that the U.S. Senate will stand firm and refuse to pass a bill that impacts senior citizens, children and families, the disabled, veterans and millions of others, including 800,000 New Jersey residents who gained health insurance under the Affordable Care Act and 1.8 million who are covered under Medicaid. We implore the Senate to uphold its fiscal duty by waiting for a nonpartisan score of the bill by the Congressional Budget Office. We thank New Jersey’s Sens. Bob Menendez and Cory Booker for putting their constituents first and expressing their opposition to the American Health Care Act.
“There is one bright spot, however, for the people of New Jersey. We can be very proud of the members of our congressional delegation who showed the courage to stand up against political pressure and vote “No” on the American Health Care Act. We applaud them: Donald Norcross (D-1), Frank LoBiondo (R-2), Chris Smith (R-4), Josh Gottheimer (D-5), Frank Pallone (D-6), Leonard Lance (R-7), Albio Sires (D-8), Bill Pascrell (D-9), Donald Payne (D-10) and Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-12).”
NARAL Pro-Choice American President Ilyse Hogue:
“President Trump and Congressional Republicans have shown once again their commitment to punishing and burdening women with every step they take. When they undermine and take away the healthcare we need as women, they’re clearly saying that women and our ability to plan and care for our families are not their priority. Giving money to their rich friends is. That is where they are so out of step with those they claim to represent.
“Americans did not vote to have their healthcare taken away or to have their access to birth control cut off—the popularity of the Affordable Care Act proves that. Millions have marched in the streets, called their representatives, and protested at town halls to protect women’s access to healthcare, and our 1.2 million member-activists will keep rising up in protest and demanding their leaders expand women’s freedom and equality.”
Sen. Paul Sarlo (D-N.J.)
“This plan would cause severe and lasting damage to the many people who have gained medical care and to the states that benefited from cost savings. This politically-inspired plan was rushed to a vote without a full explanation of its costs and consequences, but we know that it would sacrifice the progress we have made and cause irreparable harm.
“It would strip away affordable care for countless Americans, raise rates for working families, allow insurance companies to deny coverage to those with pre-existing conditions, increase premiums for senior citizens and impose a costly burden to the state. The benefits of the expanded Medicaid services would be lost, eliminating medical care for hundreds of thousands of New Jerseyans and imposing hundreds of millions of dollars in costs to the state budget.
“This plan would leave many low-income families uninsured and vulnerable to the devastating impact of health problems with no means of affording treatment and care. It would also impose costly responsibilities to state finances in lost Medicaid funds and increases in uncompensated care. I urge the Senate to prevent this legislation from getting to President Trump and to denying him the ability to make it law.”
HPAE President Ann Twomey
“After months of protest and outrage, Congress dismissed pleas from their constituents, patients and working families by passing legislation to take away healthcare from millions of Americans by dismantling the Affordable Care Act. This is a tax-cut bill for the wealthy not a health care bill. Cutting taxes for the richest in our society at the expense of the health of children, senior citizens, the disabled and anyone with a pre-existing condition is an abomination and we will continue to fight the legislation as it moves on to the US Senate.
“It is shameful and irresponsible.
“In New Jersey just two Congressmen voted in favor of this legislation, Representatives Rodney Frelinghuysen and Tom MacArthur, harming working families by taking away their health coverage, raising the cost of coverage for those with chronic conditions and placing families in danger of being unable to access and afford healthcare services.
“As health professionals we cannot sit by and idly watch our Federal Representatives place our patients and our families in jeopardy while they themselves continue to preserve their own coverage and their own interests, not the interests of the American people.”