Earlier this week, as we attempted to get all of Washington's Congressional representatives on the record about their stance on the Republican health care plan, better known as Trumpcare, a couple of offices gave me the runaround. One of those was the office of Representative Jaime Herrera Beutler, a Republican who represents Southwest Washington's District 3.
This morning, Herrera Beutler made her position clear: She'll vote no.
Ahead of tonight's expected vote on the Trumpcare, Herrera Beutler said in a statement she's concerned about the effects of the bill on children who depend on Medicaid. "I will not vote to let those kids fall through the cracks," she said.
Across Washington state, the Republican health care plan could leave 600,000 people who received coverage through Obamacare's Medicaid expansion uninsured, according to Washington Governor Jay Inslee. About 64,000 of those people live in in Herrera Beutler's district, according to state data. (Meanwhile, less than 50 percent of her district voted for President Donald Trump.)
Herrera Beutler denounced Trump during the campaign, but has been outspoken about her support for repealing Obamacare. Here's her full statement on the Trumcare plan:
I remain steadfast in my commitment to repeal and replace Obamacare with health care solutions that better serve all residents of Southwest Washington. But we can do better than the current House replacement plan, and I cannot support it in its current form.
While I appreciate this week's effort by Speaker Ryan and his leadership team to better protect older Americans from health care cost increases, the difficulties this bill would create for millions of children were left unaddressed. I’m disappointed that it appears my amendment to strengthen the Medicaid safety net for the kids who depend on it for their health care will not be considered. Protecting vulnerable children is a core purpose of the Medicaid program and when the program fails to do so, it fails entirely. I will not vote to let those kids fall through the cracks.
Southwest Washington residents also deserve a greater commitment to lowering health costs so that out-of-pocket expenses, premiums and taxes are taking up less of their monthly paychecks. Congress should more purposefully move ahead with free market reforms that increase competition between insurance providers and drive down premiums and deductibles. Obamacare also levied numerous taxes on hardworking Americans, and in our effort to pull back this harmful law we should more quickly repeal them.
In the final analysis, this bill falls short. We can't give up on replacing Obamacare with a solution that provides affordable, high-quality health care to all Americans. I will remain active and engaged at every step until Congress gets this right.