Mass. lawmakers, officials express relief at bill’s halt


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Recorder Staff
Friday, March 24, 2017

Members of Congress from Massachusetts have made their voices heard concerning the Republican Obamacare replacement plan, and, faced with a lack of support, House Speaker Paul Ryan pulled the repeal bill from the House floor on Friday, just before a scheduled vote.

Reps. Richard Neal and Jim McGovern delivered speeches against the bill, hoping to appeal to Republicans and Democrats to stop the bill from becoming law.

After it was pulled, McGovern issued a press release praising Massachusetts residents.

“Today is a victory for the millions of Americans who would have lost their health care and been forced to pay more for less coverage under Trumpcare. This bill was nothing but a tax cut for billionaires paid for by taking healthcare away from 24 million Americans.

“Today is a reminder that the real power in our democracy is with the people. Thank you to everyone in Massachusetts who made their voices heard. This wouldn’t have been possible without you.”

Following the decision to pull the bill from the House floor, Sen. Edward Markey expressed his hope to “leave this disastrous plan in the dust bin and commit to strengthening the health care law that’s already working for millions of Americans.”

“The proposal would plunge millions of American families into economic uncertainty and our health care system into chaos,” he said. “The failure of Trumpcare is yet another broken promise from President Trump to America’s families.”

State officials reacted as well. Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey described the decision to pull the “dangerous” bill as cause for celebration, and “a victory for our residents and economy in Massachusetts.”

“President Trump and Speaker Ryan’s frantic attempt to rush this bill through Congress failed thanks to the hard work and courage of a bipartisan group of members of Congress, business leaders and millions of Americans who voiced their concerns,” Healey said in a press release.

Reaction also came from members of the health industry in the state. Lynn Nicholas, president and CEO of the Massachusetts Health & Hospital Association (MHA) said in a press release that MHA and its member hospitals, health care systems and care providers are “relieved.”

In particular, Nicholas expressed concern about the threat the repeal poses to Medicaid coverage expansions, which she said have dramatically reduced the number of insured individuals in Massachusetts.

“Hospitals and other health care providers are a foundation for good in the United States, but our very solid advances toward accessible, high-quality care for all residents are now under siege due to a misguided campaign to dismantle the (Affordable Care Act),” she continued.

Despite the decision to pull the bill, Nicholas remains concerned due to “continuing efforts to dismantle the ACA.” Healy said she hopes congressional Republicans “abandon their misguided efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act” and instead work to lower health care costs and expand access to services.

Earlier in the day

“Withdraw this bill or vote ‘no’ on this bill, but this bill cannot become law,” McGovern said in his closing statement of the House floor in his speech against the bill, according to a press release from his office. “The health care protections for the American people are too important.”

Neal and McGovern criticized the bill, which they said would give tax cuts for the wealthy, raise health care costs for middle class Americans, throw 24 million people off of health care and deny health care protections to millions more.

“This isn’t one person making up ‘alternative facts,’” Neal said in his closing statement. “These statements are based on analysis by independent organizations like the Congressional Budget Office, National Rural Health Association, American Medical Association, AARP and March of Dimes. Fewer covered. Weaker protections. Higher costs.”

“I’ve come to the conclusion that there are only two ways you can vote for this bill,” McGovern said, according to his release. “One is, you don’t know what’s in the bill. Or two is, you have to have a heart of stone. Because this bill is shameful. It’s going to hurt people.”