Conservatives: Only One Score Matters: Does GOP Bill Lower Health Care Costs and Premiums?

By Susan Jones | March 8, 2017 | 6:37am EST
Conservative members of Congress hold a news conference to discuss the flawed Obamacare replacement bill introduced by House Republican leaders on Tuesday, March 7, 2017. (Screen grab from C-SPAN)

( – Conservative lawmakers say they are encouraged to hear that the Republican health care bill introduced on Monday is still open for negotiation and modification.

“And we took that as very encouraging news…because it’s good news for the American people,” Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.) told a news conference on Tuesday.

Meadows said never mind the CBO score, which is the price tag assigned to the Republican bill by the Congressional Budget Office. That number is expected to come in the new few days:

“I can tell you that there is one score that the American people will pay attention to. And that is, does it really lower their health care costs and their premiums? That’s the only score that really matters. And if this doesn’t do it, then we need to make sure that we find something that does do it.”

Rep. Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) said the conservatives’ goal is “real simple – to bring down the cost of insurance for the working families and middle-class families across this country. In an effort to do that, we think you have to get rid of Obamacare completely.”

Jordon said conservatives want to entirely and cleanly repeal Obamacare first, by voting on the same bill that every Republican backed 15 months ago. Both Jordan and Sen. Rand Paul will introduced such repeal bills in their respective chambers on Wednesday.

Then they want to move on to replacement plan that actually brings down the cost of health insurance and health care.

“Think about this,” Jordan said. “We put on President Obama’s desk a bill that repealed Obamacare, got rid of every single tax, got rid of the mandates, and now the first thing Republicans are bringing forward is a piece of legislation that we’re going to put on a Republican president’s desk that says we repeal it, but it keeps the Medicare expansion and actually expands it; that keeps some of the tax increases. That is not what we promised the American people we were going to do.”

“Make no mistake, there are three plans out there,” said Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), who has introduced one of those replacement plans.

“Conservatives have a replacement plan; House leadership has a replacement plan; I’m sure Democrats would like to go back and vote on the ACA again. Vote on all the replacement plans, and let’s see what happens,” Paul said.

Sen. Mike Lee said the Republican plan introduced on Monday is a “step in the wrong direction and a missed opportunity.”

Sen. Mark Sanford (R-S.C.) said the Republican bill is an “opening bid.”

Sanford said conservatives called Tuesday’s news conference to answer a simple question: “Do we need to lower the bar in what we believe as conservatives simply because a Republican is now in the White House?”

Sanford said the bill conservatives support is about “not lowering that bar.”

They particularly object to refundable tax credits to help people buy insurance, calling it a “new entitlement.”

Rep. Louis Gohmert (R-Texas) said he’s glad Republican have produced a bill that he called a “starting point.”

“So as long as we’re able to get amendments to the floor that will fix some huge problems with the bill that’s now been filed, then we’ll be ok. But there better not be a rule that prevents amendments that are badly needed to fix this flawed bill. That would be a major problem.”

Rep. Dave Brat (R-Va.) said Obamacare concentrated on expanding insurance to an additional 18 million people, but it did not focus on bringing down the cost of health care.

He said an actual reduction means costs go down by at least negative one percent. No one should be satisified with a reduction in the rate of cost increase.

He said it’s like CD players that started out at $500 and now cost $30.  The same thing should happen with health care, Brat said.

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