U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert says the Republican health-care bill “falls short” on provisions for poor children and people with pre-existing medical conditions.
U.S. Rep. Dave Reichert voted against the Republican health-care bill, saying it “falls short” on provisions for poor children and people with pre-existing medical conditions — and has been rushed through without a proper vetting of costs.
Reichert, R-Auburn, announced his opposition just before the scheduled U.S. House vote on the measure, known as the American Health Care Act. The bill passed 217-213.
He was among 20 Republicans who voted against the bill. U.S. Rep. Jaime Herrera Beutler, R-Vancouver, also voted no.
Reichert had remained uncommitted as the vote approached, despite personal appeals from President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.
In a phone interview, Reichert said he waited so long because he was doing “due diligence” and collecting facts.
Asked about pressure from GOP leadership, Reichert said “what they wanted me to do was hold back and vote yes if they needed me to do that.”
“I don’t care. I have to do what I think is right,” he said, citing his previous career as King County sheriff. He said Pence called him again Thursday.
“I am in the world of politics, but I am like an oddity here. I am the sheriff,” he added. “What are they going to do? Shoot me? Stab me? I’ve been stabbed before.”
Reichert said he worried about the health-care bill’s $800 billion cut to Medicaid, the public insurance program for the poor. Once the GOP plan, known as the American Health Care Act, is fully implemented as written, Reichert said some low-income kids may not get needed care.
“Maybe they get one day of therapy a week instead of the three days a week they need,” he said.
Reichert also repeated his concerns with a provision allowing states to withdraw protections for people with pre-existing medical conditions.
Unlike some other on-the-fence Republicans, Reichert was not swayed by an amendment that will add $8 billion to help subsidize insurance costs for people with such conditions. He said that might not be enough money and would be temporary.
Reichert also pointed out the legislation has not been analyzed, or “scored,” by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
“We don’t know how much this bill costs. Before I vote on a bill I want to how much it will cost,” Reichert said.
In March, Reichert voted for an earlier version of the AHCA in the Ways and Means Committee — before any CBO score — but later switched to undecided as the bill approached a floor vote, citing changes made to the bill to appease conservatives.
Among Washington’s congressional delegation, all six U.S. House Democrats voted against the bill. Democratic U.S. Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell also oppose the measure.
In a floor speech Thursday morning, U.S. Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Seattle, said hundreds of people have been calling her office crying about the bill, including an 8-year-old boy “who has a brain tumor and literally stands to die if this bill passes.”
“We should all weep that this bill is coming to the floor,” she said.
Republicans were divided, with Reichert and Beutler opposing the plan. Reps. Cathy McMorris Rodgers, R-Spokane, and Dan Newhouse, R-Sunnyside, had supported it.
Newhouse missed the vote Thursday, reportedly due to an illness in his family.