Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, of Vancouver, has become the first GOP member of Washington’s delegation to oppose the health-care overhaul. Rep. Dave Reichert says he’s undecided.

Share story

With a House vote looming, Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, of Vancouver, has become the latest Republican to declare opposition to the GOP’s proposed health-care overhaul.

And Rep. Dave Reichert, R-Auburn, says he’s undecided on the proposed American Health Care Act (AHCA) — which he voted for in committee earlier this month.

Breanna Deutsch, a Reichert spokeswoman, said in an email the bill has changed since that committee vote.

“There are likely more changes to be made. Until we know what those changes are, Congressman Reichert is undecided,” she said.

Most Read Local Stories

Unlimited Digital Access: $1 for 4 weeks

In a statement Thursday, Herrera Beutler signaled she’ll vote no, saying the measure falls short of protecting those enrolled in Medicaid.

“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,” she said.

Herrera Beutler added she was disappointed GOP leaders would not consider her proposed amendment to strengthen the Medicaid safety net.

“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,” her statement said.

She also said the GOP could do better at enacting “free market reforms” to encourage competition among insurance providers and drive down costs.

The defections by Herrera Beutler and other moderates have threatened the signature legislation backed by President Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan.

With a vote expected as early as Friday, Republican leaders have engaged in a flurry of deal making, seeking to appease conservatives who believe the legislation does not go far enough in axing the 2009 Affordable Care Act (ACA), known as Obamacare. But concessions to the conservatives have threatened to peel off moderate GOP votes.

With votes in flux, House leaders postponed a vote they’d planned for Thursday.

Among Washington’s other GOP House members, Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, of Spokane, a part of GOP leadership, has continued to express support for the AHCA, as has Rep. Dan Newhouse, of Sunnyside.

Meanwhile, all of Washington’s Democratic members of Congress have strongly opposed the bill.

In a speech on the Senate floor Thursday morning, Sen. Patty Murray marked the seventh anniversary of the ACA’s being signed into law.

The GOP health-care overhaul “would have a profoundly negative impact on the lives, well-being and financial security of people across the country — people who, again, are truly terrified about the uncertain path forward,” Murray said.

Murray accused Republicans of “rushing” the bill through four House committees without a public hearing and criticized Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for pledging to bring it to a vote as early as next week.

A Congressional Budget Office analysis predicted the AHCA would leave 24 million fewer people with health insurance by 2026, while reducing the federal budget deficit by $337 billion.

Last week, after those budget-office numbers came out, Reichert defended the AHCA, saying the analysis showed fewer people would choose to buy health insurance absent Obamacare’s controversial individual mandate.

He added: “It’s not the government’s job to force Americans to buy something they do not want and can’t afford to use.”