Congresswoman Martha McSally (R-AZ02) broke several weeks of silence on her position on the American Health Care Act, the GOP's replacement of the Affordable Care Act (aka ObamaCare), by announcing yesterday that she not only supports the AHCA, but is taking credit for several new elements in the bill.
In a prepared statement released yesterday, McSally called the Affordable Care Act "an unmitigated disaster in Arizona—leaving us without real choices statewide.
"The exchanges for 14 of the state’s 15 counties are devoid of competition because they are left with only a single insurer selling coverage," McSally said. "However, the transition to new system will take time and those on Medicaid and ACA exchanges deserve continuity and stability during the transition. Over the past weeks, I have proposed detailed, specific changes to the AHCA that would provide better coverage and a stable transition for seniors, the disabled, children, and middle class families. Through lengthy negotiations with House leadership and the executive branch, I am pleased to have played a role in moving this bill in the right direction."
McSally's support for the legislation earned her praise from House Speaker Paul Ryan (who said McSally's "unwavering commitment to her constituents and her tenacity throughout the negotiating process has led to positive changes and I believe this is a better bill as a result of her involvement”) and even a shoutout from President Donald Trump himself.
There have been changes to the legislation ahead of a rush to a vote on Thursday, March 23. They include $75 billion in tax credits for older Americans, who are projected to see their healthcare premiums skyrocket under the legislation. (How exactly that $75 billion will be doled out isn't spelled out in the legislation; instead, the Senate is supposed to figure that part out); turning Medicaid into a block-grant for states and allowing a requirement that able-bodied adults work if they want to have Medicaid coverage; and a faster repeal of taxes related to the Affordable Care Act. You can read more about the changes here if you're feeling wonky.
McSally's enthusiasm for the latest version of the legislation isn't shared by all of her GOP colleagues. It's coming down to white-knuckle time on Capitol Hill as tomorrow's vote on this legislation approaches—and it appears that the conservatives in the Freedom Caucus still aren't on board. As The Hill reports:
Speaking to reporters outside a Freedom Caucus meeting after a White House meeting, the group called on leaders to start over on ObamaCare, saying the replacement bill does not have the votes to pass Thursday.
"The opposition is still strong," said Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), the chairman of the group.
"They don't have the votes to pass this tomorrow. We believe that they need to start over and do a bill that actually reduces premiums."
Meanwhile, a new Morning Consult poll shows the legislation's popularity continues to plummet:
Since the Congressional Budget Office released its cost estimate of the Obamacare alternative last week, showing steep coverage losses, the legislation’s approval rating has dipped six points, from 46 percent to 40 percent. Obamacare’s approval rating, on the other hand, sits at 46 percent, as it did in February.
McSally has made a career of refusing to go out on a limb for controversial legislation. You have to wonder why she picked this slender branch to get out ahead of an issue.