A twenty minute phone call from President Trump did not change southwest Missouri Republican Congressman Billy Long’s opposition to the new GOP healthcare plan that aims to replace Obamacare. Long tells Missourinet he opposes an amendment in the bill that he says strips away any guarantee that pre-existing health conditions would be covered and affordable.
“Once Obamacare passed, I looked at it. There were a couple of things I liked about it,” says Long. “One was that it covered pre-existing conditions. Two, you can keep children on your healthcare plan until they are 26. I’ve always maintained that I would keep those in any replacement plan that we did.”
The amendment would allow states to ask for a waiver from providing benefits currently mandated in Obamacare, such as emergency and maternity care. If a state gets a waiver, it would also allow people with pre-existing health conditions to be charged more, which is not allowed under Obamacare.
Long is a devout Trump supporter and helped Trump on the campaign trail when he says “nobody wanted to be seen with Trump.”
“He knows that I’m a supporter and I appreciate what he’s done and what he’s doing,” says Long. “Some House members have over-promised and under-delivered what they can get passed through the House,” says Long. “I told him (Trump) that he should take more of a leadership role in deciding what he wants done and come to us to get it done instead of us saying ‘Hey we think we can get this passed.’”
Republicans are trying to shore up enough favorable votes to get the plan through the House.
“I still think they’re short on votes, which I frankly don’t understand because they picked up 40 Freedom Caucus votes by putting this amendment in and they lost my vote. So they should be 39 votes to the good,” says Long.
In March, House Republicans failed to pass a different healthcare plan. The GOP direction quickly shifted to focus on tax reform.
“There’s a lot of savings in healthcare and the savings they want to apply to the tax reform. Without doing healthcare first, it makes it more difficult to do tax reform. So I think that’s their thinking in circling back to do healthcare,” says Long.
Supporters of the bill say Obamacare is collapsing and a patient-centered system must be adopted that’s not a government mandate and brings down the cost of care and insurance.