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New Jersey GOP congressmen help scuttle health overhaul vote

March 25, 2017

TRENTON, N.J. (AP) — Four of New Jersey’s five Republican congressmen helped to scuttle a health overhaul bill that could have meant nearly half a million more state residents without insurance.

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen on Friday said that the legislation was “unacceptable,” joining with Reps. Frank LoBiondo, Leonard Lance and Chris Smith, who had already announced their plans to vote against the bill.

House Speaker Paul Ryan pulled the “repeal and replace” bill drafted by House Republican leaders and blessed by President Donald Trump after it failed to muster enough support. It was the latest attempt to undo the Affordable Care Act, which already beat two Supreme Court challenges.

A spokeswoman for the other Republican in the state’s delegation, Rep. Tom MacArthur, said Friday morning that he still had planned to vote yes. The state’s seven Democratic members of the House were all opposed to the measure.

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‘COSTS AND BARRIERS’

About 476,000 fewer New Jersey residents would have health insurance by 2020 under the proposed replacement to the Affordable Care Act, an analysis by the liberal-leaning think tank New Jersey Policy Perspective found this week.

Frelinghuysen, who chairs the powerful House appropriations committee, said that the legislation would place “significant new costs and barriers to care” on his constituents.

“In addition to the loss of Medicaid coverage for so many people in my Medicaid-dependent state, the denial of essential health benefits in the individual market raise serious coverage and cost issues,” Frelinghuysen said. “I remain hopeful that the American Health Care Act will be further modified. We need to get this right for all Americans.”

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‘COMMON SENSE’

LoBiondo announced earlier this week that he was against the measure and on Friday asked on Twitter that people stop calling his office “hourly” to inquire about his position. He said that he wouldn’t be “arm-twisted” to support it.

He said that changes made by GOP leadership Thursday night strengthened his no vote and that changes to the essential benefit section would be a big issue for his southern New Jersey district.

Jon Whiten, of New Jersey Policy Perspective, said that the “fight to protect and expand affordable health care for all New Jerseyans is not over. But in this crucial round one, common sense, sound policy and better coverage have won the day.”

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‘MISSED THE MARK’

Lance said the GOP health plan “missed that mark and did not meet my goals for an Obamacare replacement plan: greater access for the American people, better options for all patients and lower costs across the health care market.”

He said Friday that he is hopeful that future legislation will address these issues. He said he will work with Trump, Ryan and “all those who wish to improve the health care system in this country” — including Democrats who “need to help with the solution that all our constituents deserve.”

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