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Trump healthcare bill passes

EVAN GOODENOW • Updated May 4, 2017 at 8:10 PM

Rep. Jim Jordan was among the Republicans who switched their votes Thursday allowing a healthcare bill to pass that includes steep premium hikes for older and sick people and slashes services.

Jordan is a founder of the ultraconservative Freedom Caucus, a group of about 30 Republican congressman which helped torpedo Trumpcare — officially known as the American Health Care Act — in March believing it provided too many taxpayer subsidies to low-income people and increased the approximately $500 billion deficit.

Jordan didn’t return a call or email from the Reflector Thursday. However, in a news release he said the “intense involvement” of conservatives the last few weeks improved the bill.

“While it is not a full repeal, it is a crucial first step to fulfilling that promise to repeal and replace Obamacare” said Jordan, who represents the 4th Congressional District which includes Norwalk. “I look forward to continuing to make this legislation better and to fulfill our promise to the American people.”

The vote passed narrowly by a 217-213 margin. No Democrats voted for the bill which now goes to the Senate where major changes may be made. The bill then goes to a House-Senate conference committee before a final vote.

The vote was done before the Congressional Budget Office could analyze the bill. The CBO analysis of the original bill estimated 24 million people could lose coverage by 2026. 

Many aspects of the original Trumpcare plan are in the new bill including huge tax cuts for the rich. They paid much of the cost of Obamacare through higher income taxes and investment income taxes.

Families earning at least $200,000 annually would receive a $5,680 cut annually, according to the Urban Brookings Tax Policy Center. Families earning $1 million annually would receive a $51,410 cut.

While the wealthy would benefit, low and middle-income people would lose income-based subsidies and tax credits. Older Americans would be charged at least a 5-to-1 ratio compared to younger Americans compared to a maximum 3-to-1 under Obamacare.

People whose coverage lapses more than 63 days would pay far higher premiums. And Trumpcare also allows states to obtain waivers to remove restrictions on higher premiums for people with pre-existing conditions. The bill includes $8 billion to help cover people with pre-existing conditions which helped sway some reluctant Republicans to vote for it.

Constituents critical of the bill called Jordan’s offices in Norwalk and Washington D.C. Among the callers was Janet Garrett, a Democrat who Jordan defeated in the last two congressional elections. Garrett, of Oberlin, said the bill is inhumane.

“It’s a tragedy that Republicans are more interested in a political win than the welfare of the people,” she said. “This is politically tantamount to putting a gun in your mouth. I don’t think it’s a good thing politically and it’s definitely not good for the people.”

Also critical of the bill is Scott Ford, a retired teacher and Norwalk resident. The 69-year-old Ford is covered by Medicare, but said he sympathizes for people who lack healthcare, have poor coverage, or are struggling to pay premiums and deductibles.

Ford said he was appalled a vote was done before a CBO analysis and after just a few hours of debate. In contrast, Obamacare was passed in 2010 after approximately 18 months of debate and political wrangling.

“This was a cold, heartless, calculating thing to do to people,” said Ford, a Democrat. “It’s so irresponsible.”

A jubilant President Trump promised that premiums and deductibles would start dropping under the bill. He expressed optimism that it would pass the Senate.

“We knew that (Obamacare) wasn’t going to work. I predicted it a long time ago. I said, ‘It’s failing.’ And now it’s obvious that it’s failing. It’s dead. It’s essentially dead. If we don’t pay lots of ransom money over the insurance companies, it would die immediately,” Trump said. — The Associated Press contributed to this story.





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