Following the revisions of Congressman Fred Upton (R–Mich.), the American Health Care Act — the Republican Party’s proposal to repeal the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act — passed the House of Representatives with 217 “yes” votes, barely clearing the 216 it needed. It now heads to the Senate, where it will need a simple majority to pass.
Although Upton announced his opposition to the bill Tuesday, he announced Wednesday he would be supporting the bill as well as attempting to gather further support and offering revisions to make it more palatable to moderate Republicans like himself.
The original GOP bill would have made federal waivers to ACA insurance protections available to the states, allowing insurers to charge higher premiums for people who have pre-existing health conditions and let their insurance coverage lapse. The ACA prohibits higher premiums for people with pre-existing conditions in all cases.
The GOP bill proved widely unpopular leading up to the vote, polling at 17 percent approval nationally. An attempt to bring the bill to a vote in March was halted when it became clear it would not pass.
The revision Upton proposed to the GOP bill, however, added $8 billion over five years to “high risk pools” intended to aid individuals affected by the higher premiums. Both the revised and original versions provide for a $130 billion general fund for states to use for whatever problems may arise with the plan.
Many students on campus did not find advantages to the bill, like recent University graduate Juyeon Ha.
“I know that one of the reasons they wanted to pass this bill was to decrease premiums, but I don’t think they’re going to do that at all — especially for people with pre-existing conditions,” she said. “That’s my biggest concerns honestly, because I think that was one of the biggest successes of Obamacare.”
She said she isn’t sure how aware people are of the contents of the bill.
“I don’t really know if people are aware that this is happening — that they’re trying to repeal that part of Obamacare,” she said. “I think it’s kind of written in fine print, which I think is unfortunate. Hopefully it doesn’t pass the Senate.”
Prior to Wednesday, Upton was the only Michigan Republican in Congress opposing the bill apart from Rep. Justin Amash (R– Mich.), who was still undecided. Amash opposed an earlier version of the bill, saying it didn’t go far enough in repealing the ACA. Upton’s revision, though, has drawn the support of three other House Republicans previously opposing the bill, putting it narrowly over the margin it needs to pass. Amash ultimately was one of those who voted for the bill.
Upton’s reversal has come under fire from Democrats in the state. In a statement, Michigan Democratic Party Chair Brandon Dillon said the move was hypocritical of Upton, pointing out Upton’s recent statement that “more money does not do the trick” to provide relief to individuals with pre-existing conditions.
“Donald Trump must have promised Fred Upton that being heartless and spineless won’t be considered pre-existing conditions under Trumpcare,” Dillon said.
LSA senior Candace Miller said the bill’s passage points to a lack of understanding about universal health care, particularly because it only appeals to a certain class.
“I think it’s kind of shocking that people don’t fully understand what ‘healthcare for everyone’ means,” she said. “To overturn this, I think it’s very classist and they’re thinking of it in terms of who can actually pay for their health insurance. They’re thinking in terms of their friend groups but they’re not thinking about access for all.”
She mentioned there are people in her home community who do not have access to a lot of resources that people of a higher SES do have.
In an interview with the Detroit Free Press, Upton said he expected the bill to garner the support of other moderate Republicans.
“It’s not quite a done deed yet, but it addresses many of my concerns,” he said.
Public Policy junior Lauren Schandevel, Communications Director of the University’s chapter of College Democrats and a columnist for the Daily, expressed concern about the passage of the bill.
“We are disappointed in Representative Upton’s decision and we anticipate resistance to the bill in the Senate,” she wrote in a statement to the Daily.
LSA junior Enrique Zalamea, president of the University of Michigan’s chapter of College Republicans, saw Upton’s decision to support the bill as a good sign.
“Seeing Fred Upton change his mind by supporting the GOP health care bill gives me more confidence that after years of Obamacare, real change in health care is finally going to happen,” he said.
Engineering senior Andrew Lavery said he isn’t surprised by the passage.
“I don’t expect Congress to do anything sane most of the time,” he said. “I’m a computer science major who pays a lot of attention to tech and copyright policy and Congress never makes sense with that. So them continuing to not make sense with health care policy is no surprise, though it is a disappointment.”