When Republicans in the House of Representatives voted to pass the American Health Care Act earlier today, they did it without one local voice: Rep. Barbara Comstock (R-VA-10).
Comstock’s office has not yet responded to an emailed request for an interview, but in a statement, Comstock said she did not support the measure because of “the many uncertainties” in the bill.
“My goals on healthcare reform are to provide patient-centered reforms that provide better access to high quality, affordable care and covers preexisting conditions without lifetime limits,” Comstock stated. “I did not support the AHCA today because the many uncertainties in achieving those goals.”
House Republicans voted on the AHCA before the Congressional Budget Office could issue its report outlining the effects of the bill. The previous incarnation of the bill, which never made it to a vote, was predicted to cut the federal deficit by $337 billion over 10 years, largely through cuts to Medicaid and eliminating subsidies for health insurance in President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare legislation, the Affordable Care Act. However, the budget office also predicted that 14 million more people would be uninsured in 2018, and the number of uninsured people would rise to 52 million in 10 years, compared to 28 million under the ACA. There are varied estimates of how many additional deaths that would cause.
Among the changes under the new bill, the ACA’s Medicaid expansion would be rolled back; older adults could be charged up to five times as much for their health insurance, instead of the current cap of three times as much; insurers would be required to punish people who allow their coverage to lapse for three months with a 3o percent surcharge on premiums; states could opt out of protections for pre-existing conditions and requirements that insurers provide minimum levels of coverage; and high-income people would see a tax cut. the proposal is widely expected to get a thorough working over in the Senate.
Comstock’s vote against the bill was not enough to forestall criticism from her political opponents, including state senator and Democratic congressional challenger Jennifer T. Wexton (D-33), who said Comstock has “refused to stand up to her party.”
“As much as she would prefer to hide, she is responsible for the actions of her party,” Wexton stated. “Since taking office, she has voted six times to fully repeal Obamacare without a replacement plan. True representation requires standing up to her party’s leadership and speaking out on behalf of the nearly 50,000 people who will lose their coverage, and more than 1,000 people who will lose their jobs, in our district.”
“As the process moves forward I hope that we can continue to work together to fix our broken healthcare system,” Comstock said in her statement. “We have seen over the past year more bad news of skyrocketing premiums, rising deductibles, and fewer choices for millions of American families. The status quo is unsustainable and we need to find real solutions for the American people.”