U.S. Rep. Stephen Lynch

Credit: AP Photo/Steven Senne

Rep. Lynch: Health Care Vote Will Come Down To The Wire

March 14, 2017

Rep. Stephen Lynch expects House Republicans to take desperate measures to pass a controversial health care bill known as the American Health Care Act. “They’ve got an advantage of about 53 members here, so I think it’ll be close,” Lynch said in an interview with "Boston Public Radio" on Tuesday. “There have been a lot of outspoken Republican senators on their side that don’t like what’s happening to Medicare. That’s sort of a holy grail for a lot of people. Especially if you represent rural areas where you’ve got a lot of poor people, this is going to hurt them.”

House Speaker Paul Ryan has expressed confidence that the bill will pass Congress, despite resistance from the conservative Republican Freedom Caucus. According to Lynch, House Republicans are hoping to get votes from members who oppose Trump’s health care bill by using threats to sabotage local elections. “The White House has threatened some of these Republican people who are not on the train, not in line with this bill, that they will actually campaign against them in their districts, claiming that they were protecting Obamacare,” Lynch said. “[That] would be fatal to some of these members of Congress.”

A review released Monday by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that as many as 24 million people would be uninsured under the new plan. The legislation would also slash the federal budget deficit by more than $300 billion by 2027, according to the analysis. “Remember, when they say 24 million people will not have insurance, that’s because they get rid of the mandate, so they tell people, 'You don’t have to buy insurance if you don’t want,'” Lynch said. “Most of the people who are not going to have insurance are the ones who say, eh, if there’s no penalty, I’m not going to buy it — the healthy people. Most of those people who are going to lose insurance, that’s their category.”

The proposed legislation removes the mandatory health insurance requirement under the Affordable Care Act, which Ryan said he was “pretty encouraged” by. “We’re saying the government’s not going to force people to buy something that they don’t want to buy,” he said.

This gap will create problems for recipients of Medicaid, Lynch said — particularly the elderly. “Right now there’s a match, 50/50, with the federal and the state, so anybody who became eligible for Medicaid under the expansion ... wouldn’t be reimbursed at that 50 percent rate,” Lynch said. “It would put more pressure on the states, more pressure on Massachusetts, after 2020 to pay for those people who became eligible because of the expansion.”

To hear Rep. Stephen Lynch’s full interview with Boston Public Radio, click on the audio link above.

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