NFU, Heritage praise health care bill withdrawal; Farm Bureau hopes for new bill
Speaking from opposite ends of the ideological spectrum, the National Farmers Union and Heritage Action praised the Republican leadership’s decision to withdraw the American Health Care Act due to lack of support, while the American Farm Bureau Federation, which had supported the bill, said it stands ready to work on a new bill even though President Donald Trump said he would move on to other matters.
After House Speaker Paul Ryan, R-Wis., withdrew the bill on Friday, Trump said that the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare, would explode. Some Republican lawmakers said they would still try to write a health care bill, The Hill reported Sunday.
But Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said that if the Trump administration tries to undermine the ACA the action will backfire on him.
NFU President Roger Johnson said in a statement Friday, “Today’s decision to pull the American Health Care Act highlights a host of concerns the American people have with this failed legislation. The AHCA would have had serious negative impacts on millions of people’s access to affordable health insurance coverage, particularly family farmers, ranchers and rural citizens. As such, NFU applauds the withdrawal of the bill.”
“NFU stood specifically against the capping of Medicaid, which is especially beneficial to rural communities,” Johnson said. “Rural enrollment in Medicaid is higher than in urban America, and rural hospitals are more dependent on Medicare and Medicaid payments than their urban counterparts.
“Finally, the bill’s structure of tax credits and premium subsidies stood to be detrimental to both younger and older farmers. The subsidy system was based on a person’s age, rather than income, which would hurt younger farmers. The bill also would have eased restrictions on what insurance companies can charge older customers, allowing rates for older farmers to skyrocket.
“We are pleased to see this flawed legislation withdrawn — hopefully for good,” Johnson said.
After the vote was canceled, Heritage Action CEO Michael Needham said in a statement, “The bill is disaster on nearly every front and opposed by nearly every serious conservative health care analyst. The AHCA failed to repeal Obamacare’s regulatory architecture, which Heritage has found to increase premiums by a national average of 44.5 to 68 percent. This week’s events were unfortunate, but it is now clear that no bill can pass the House unless these regulatory problems are addressed.
“Throughout this process, conservatives acted in good faith to deliver on longstanding campaign promises. Unfortunately, it became apparent this week that many supporters of the bill were hiding behind faux procedural concerns to avoid the substantive divides in the Republican conference over maintaining Obamacare’s regulatory architecture. Today’s events gives conservatives a chance to reset that debate.”
Mace Thornton, a Farm Bureau spokesman said, “We continue to support a health care system that incentivizes people to plan for their health care needs and provides for those who are unable to pay for health care themselves. We stand ready to work with congressional leaders in the future on a plan that will work better for America’s farmers and ranchers.”
Over the weekend, analysts said the Republicans’ failure to pass a health care bill raises questions about their ability to move forward with the rest of their agenda, including tax reform and a renegotiation of the North American Free Trade Agreement and other trade measures.
On Sunday, Trump appeared to blame conservatives for the failure of the bill, the Associated Press reported.
–The Hagstrom Report
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