MacArthur, Upton, McSally play key role in crafting American Health Care Act

The House approved the American Health Care Act (ACHA) on Thursday, the Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, thanks in part to key contributions from U.S. Reps. Tom MacArthur (R-NJ), Fred Upton (R-MI) and Martha McSally (R-AZ).

MacArthur introduced an amendment that gives states the option to apply for a waiver for some federal standards if they can demonstrate that the waiver would reduce health care costs or increase the number of people with coverage. Upton lobbied for pre-existing condition protections, and McSally introduced a separate bill striking an AHCA exemption for members of Congress.

Upton called AHCA “a first step in the right direction” to ensure that all Americans have access to quality, affordable health care.

Recounting his own personal experiences with the health care system, MacArthur said repairing the broken system has always been about people, not policies.

“My mother died when I four years old and I watched my father, who had no insurance, struggle his whole life to pay off her medical bills,” MacArthur said. “My first daughter, Gracie, was born with severe special needs, and passed away at the age of 11. The emotional cost to our family was devastating and the financial cost added up to more than $1 million in medical bills. This is the perspective I’ve carried with me as I’ve negotiated to make this bill better.”

MacArthur worked with House leadership and the White House to include $165 billion to ensure the nation’s most vulnerable would be protected under AHCA.

“This included $60 billion in additional funding for older and disabled Americans in Medicaid and made sure that everyone in Medicaid Expansion — including over 500,000 New Jerseyans — could remain there permanently with a full federal match,” he said. “I proposed and gained a $90 billion increase in the health care tax credits for Americans in the 50-64 age group and secured an additional $15 billion to help young mothers and those struggling with mental and substance abuse disorders.”

The AHCA includes health coverage for those with pre-existing medical conditions, a top priority for Upton.

“Covering those with pre-existing conditions is of the utmost importance to me. Our bill already ensures that insurance companies are prohibited from denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions. Our amendment further protects people from the financial impact associated with having a pre-existing condition.”

The legislation also would expand the use of Health Savings Accounts, ease the transition of those on a Medicaid expansion, and provide a monthly tax credit to low and middle-income individuals and families that don’t have access to insurance through work or government programs, Upton said.

McSally, in introducing her bill, H.R. 2192, to strike an AHCA exemption for members of Congress, said any law that applies to constituents must apply equally to members of Congress.

“Anything short of that is hypocrisy,” McSally said. “Congress must abide by the laws it passes and should be treated no differently than other hardworking Americans. My measure eliminates double standards by preventing members of Congress from exempting themselves from American Health Care Act.”

McSally’s measure unanimously passed the House by a vote of 429-0.