U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer speaks with a constituent before heading to the floor to vote against the health care bill Friday in Washington, D.C.

U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer speaks with a constituent before heading to the floor to vote against the health care bill Friday in Washington, D.C.

6th District congressman among Democrats pleased by bill’s failure

WASHINGTON — U.S. Rep Derek Kilmer was among the Democrats who were pleased that President Donald Trump and GOP leaders pulled their “Obamacare” repeal bill off the House floor Friday.

“I’m glad this bill was stopped and I’m going to continue to work to improve our health care system by reducing costs and expanding coverage,” Kilmer, a Port Angeles native, said Friday.

Kilmer, who lives in Gig Harbor, represents the 6th Congressional District, which includes the North Olympic Peninsula.

The Republican bill would have eliminated care fines on those who do not obtain coverage, a provision of the Obama administration’s Affordable Care Act (ACA). It also would have changed the size of subsidies and who would receive them for those who purchase insurance.

Republican tax credits would have been based on age, not income like the ACA, and the tax boosts Obama imposed on higher-earning people and health care companies would have been repealed, according to an Associated Press report.

The GOP bill would have ended Medicaid expansion and trimmed future federal financing for the federal-state program, letting states impose work requirements on some of the 70 million beneficiaries, the AP said.

Before heading to the House floor to vote against the bill, Kilmer noted that the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said the Republican bill would have resulted in 24 million additional uninsured people nationwide.

About 40,000 of the newly uninsured would have been from Kilmer’s 6th Congressional District, he said.

“President Trump said that his health care plan would cover everyone and be much less expensive,” Kilmer said in a video posted to his Facebook page. ”Those were his exact words on both fronts. And unfortunately on both fronts, that’s not what this bill does.”

Sen. Patty Murray, D-Seattle, also was pleased the Republican plan did not go through.

“Republicans spent seven years vowing to turn back the clock on health care for women, seniors and families — but it took just a few weeks of them trying to jam Trumpcare through Congress to realize that people across the country absolutely reject their plans to increase premiums, cut millions of people off of their insurance coverage, eliminate women’s health care options, and put the insurance companies back in charge of health care decisions,” Murray said in a news release.

However, the National Federation of Independent Business in Washington, D.C., said the House’s failure to pass the American Health Care Act was “extremely disappointing.”

“Small businesses have struggled for seven years under Obamacare’s taxes and mandates, and now that struggle will continue for the foreseeable future,” the group said in a news release. “Passing a bill with a massive tax reduction for small businesses should have been the easiest of votes for both parties.”

Peninsula hospital CEOs earlier last week expressed concerns about the possibility of changes in the federal health care system.

Since the ACA was implemented, more than 13,000 people have gained health insurance across the North Olympic Peninsula, officials said.

In Clallam County, about 10,000 gained health insurance — 7,000 through the Medicaid expansion. In Jefferson County, more than 3,000 gained health insurance through the Medicaid expansion.

“My concerns are really about the 7,000 to 9,000 people [in Clallam County] that could lose their insurance and financially how that affects the whole health care delivery system,” said OMC CEO Eric Lewis on Thursday about the proposed American Health Care Act that Republicans pulled Friday from the House floor just before a scheduled vote.

“My personal biggest concern of the American Health Care Act is it does away with the Medicaid expansion but it keeps all the Medicare reimbursement cuts,” Lewis said.

If Medicare cuts of $85 million over the next nine years stay in place, then financially, OMC has a significant budget problem, Lewis said. If the American Health Care Act had moved forward, he said, the hospital would need to rethink its entire strategic plan.

Said Mike Glenn, Jefferson Healthcare CEO: “We think the ACA may have flaws, but it’s working very well in Jefferson County in providing insurance to people who — before the ACA — were unable to get it.

“I’m not in favor of a repeal if the replacement does not expand access to insurance to people in our community.”

Kilmer said the failed legislation would have resulted in an increase in insurance premiums falling disproportionately on seniors and rural residents.

“To me, it doesn’t make sense to have people pay more and get less,” Kilmer said. ”So that’s not something I can support.”

Kilmer also said that language was added to the bill that would have made military veterans ineligible for tax credits that help them afford private insurance.

“I’m someone who’s willing to work with anybody to make improvements to our health care system,” Kilmer said.

“In fact, I’ve sponsored bills to make improvements to our health care system, to try to improve care in rural communities, to improve access to primary care, to help small businesses actually afford insurance, but that’s not what this bill does.

“So I’m about to head to the floor to vote against it.”

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Reporter Rob Ollikainen can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56450, or at [email protected].

Reporter Jesse Major can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 56250, or at [email protected].

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