A Republican congressman from Pennsylvania said on Sunday he can't support the GOP's plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act "in its current form," making him the party's first Philadelphia-region Republican to admit publicly that he will not vote for the new legislation.
Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick, a first-termer from Bucks County, has gotten criticism for his stance against President Donald Trump's American Health Care Act. Republicans can't afford to lose more than 21 votes in the House, Philly.com reported, as Democrats are united against the repeal of the heath care often referred to as "ObamaCare."
“After considering the current healthcare bill in a thorough and deliberate manner, I have concluded that, although the American Health Care Act focuses on several much-needed reforms to our healthcare system, in its current form I cannot support this legislation,” Fitzpatrick wrote on Facebook on Sunday. “I have many concerns with this bill, and first among them is the impact on the single most important issue plaguing Bucks and Montgomery Counties, and the issue that I have made my priority in Congress: opioid abuse prevention, treatment and recovery.”
Around 125,000 Pennsylvanians have access to addiction treatment in large part to the expansion through the Medicaid program, according to Gov. Tom Wolf.
“The current plan to replace the Affordable Care Act would cut health care for our most vulnerable residents, including children, seniors, and individuals suffering from opioid and heroin addiction,” Wolf said in January. “This will have a devastating impact for many Pennsylvanians."
Fitzpatrick is the only congressman from Pennsylvania on The Hill's compiled list of the 17 House GOP "no" votes.
The statement addresses his concerns for the bill's "current form," crafted the Speaker Paul Ryan, leaving room for Fitzpatrick's support on any future redrafts.
“The Affordable Care Act is broken in many areas and desperately needs to be fixed or replaced with a system that works better for everyone,” Fitzpatrick continued. “It is important to note that this bill is one of several reform measures being considered, and many more bills will surely follow. It is incumbent upon all elected officials, at every level of government, to take our time and to get this right. Healthcare is far too important and we must not settle for anything less.”
While other Republicans from the area have said they have concerns about the plans to dismantle the current health care system, no one has definitely said they would vote against the bill.
Ryan said amendments to the bill are possible, the Allentown Morning Call reported, including: increasing tax credits to counterbalance premium costs, enforcing a work requirement on some Medicaid recipients and changing how states receive federal money for their Medicaid programs.
A vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with the American Health Care Act is slated for Thursday in the House.