SUMMARY: Jared DeLoof, Marc Friedenberg, David Werner, and Pam Short met with Congressman Thompson on Monday to talk about the Republicans’ American Health Care Act (AHCA). That bill is scheduled for a vote of the entire House this week, probably on Thursday. In a story released by the Centre Daily Times on Saturday, Thompson had already announced, “I have read the AHCA and cannot support the bill in its current form.” When we asked him a number of specific questions about glaring weaknesses in the AHCA, Thompson offered only vague assurances that he was working to fix them. In the end, we expect that he will support whatever the Republican leadership puts forward for a vote.
Thompson opened our meeting by saying that support for the bill was “crumbling.” When Jared, who is diabetic, expressed concern about cuts to Medicaid in the AHCA that could leave him without insurance to pay more than $30,000 a year for insulin, Thompson reassured us that he was asking for changes in the AHCA’s Medicaid’s provisions. Thompson wasn’t at all specific about the kinds of changes he was asking for, but he did say that he particularly disliked how the AHCA treats Medicaid as a single program. He emphasized that Medicaid is really a lot of different programs that serve groups ranging from mothers and kids, for example, to old people in nursing homes.
Moving fairly quickly off the topic of Medicaid, Thompson seemed most intent on doing something about the high cost of health insurance for older people in their 50’s and 60’s in the AHCA. That problem has received much attention in the press, with the Congressional Budget Office giving the example of someone 64 years old with $26,500 in annual income, whose own costs for insurance would increase from $1700 currently to $14,600 under the Republican plan.
When we asked if Thompson would oppose any form of the House bill that didn’t do enough for older adults or people needing Medicaid, he said that he’d have to look at whether the problems could be fixed later—either in the Senate or administratively through new regulations.
People on limited incomes that are too high to qualify for Medicaid are also facing huge premium increases according to CBO. When we asked about them, Thompson said he’d like there to be “policies you can buy with the credit” and offered a not very reassuring, “that’s in flux, too.”
Finally, with 24 million people losing health insurance and others facing huge premium increases, we questioned the logic of repealing the ACA taxes on rich people with incomes over $200,000. Thompson said that was being looked at more closely.
Before we left, Thompson told us that he was “still a no” and wouldn’t know how he’d vote until later in the week—probably not before Wednesday at the earliest. However, especially with his comments about ironing out problems through a long process involving the Senate and administrative actions, we think he’s probably going to vote “yes” on Thursday.