U.S. Rep. Jim Jordan said Monday he’s optimistic a Senate proposal to reform health care will move forward later this week, although he said it falls short of a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
Jordan, R-Urbana, also briefly discussed issues like welfare reform after a tour of KTH Parts Industries Inc., an auto parts manufacturing firm in St. Paris. Jordan said Congress should reform federal welfare programs, arguing too many Americans remain on assistance despite a recovering economy.
The Senate health care legislation is broadly similar to a bill House Republicans passed earlier this year. Jordan argued both bills would drive down insurance premiums in the long term. However, a Congressional Budget Office report of the a House version in May predicted the legislation would reduce average premiums for younger, healthy adults and raise premiums for older, less healthy people.
“That became the big focus for us, driving premiums down for middle class and working class families, because we know what Obamacare has done to premiums,” Jordan said. “They’re unbelievably high and we need to bring those down.”
But David Pepper, chairman of the Ohio Democratic Party, said the current House and Senate proposals would lead to worse care for patients in the state.
“The Republican proposal — which Jim Jordan apparently supports — would allow insurance companies to charge Americans with pre-existing conditions like cancer or diabetes much more, which means more people will go without medical treatment because of costs, jeopardizing lives in Ohio and across the nation,” Pepper said.
Jordan said lawmakers should be up front with voters that neither the House nor the Senate version of the health care replacement would be a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act, also known as “Obamacare.”
“I always tell folks, remember, this is not a full repeal,” Jordan said. “I wish it was and that’s what we campaigned on. But I think it’s important you’re honest with the voters. This was as good as we were going to get out of the House, the bill we sent to the Senate. It’s largely the same bill, so let’s see what the Senate does and then it’ll come back to our side. Maybe all that happens this week.”
The CBO report also projected that the House version would leave 23 million more people uninsured compared to Obamacare by 2026. The Dayton Daily news earlier reported a study by the Greater Dayton Hospital Association that showed if the House version of the American Health Care Act remained unchanged, it could cost the region billions.
That’s because the House bill would lead to $2 billion less in Medicaid spending in the region over the next decade and close to $300 million in uninsured costs for 29 area hospitals, according to a joint study by GDAHA and the American Hospital Association.
Jordan and other conservatives voted against an earlier version of the House Bill, and he said that opposition led to better legislation that eventually passed. Both the House and Senate health care bills would eliminate tax penalties for people who do not buy insurance and roll back state expansions of Medicaid, a federal health program for low-income adults, children, pregnant women, elderly adults and people with disabilities.
Jordan said it’s not yet clear how attempts to pass health care reform will impact other parts of the Republican agenda. He said congress is also beginning to work on issues like tax reform and immigration.
He also pushed for welfare reform, which he argued should include work requirements for able-bodied adults. He introduced a bill late last year that would require a review of federal welfare programs.
Federal spending on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, also known as food stamps, spiked during the recession according to a 2015 report by the Congressional Budget Office. In fiscal year 2014, 47 million people, — about 1 in 7 residents in the U.S. — received SNAP benefits in an average month, according to the CBO. In 2007, that number was about 26 million people, or about 1 in 11 U.S. residents.
“We think it’s important to say able-bodied people getting government assistance, getting SNAP, getting food stamps should have some work requirement,” Jordan said. “States that have done it have seen a marked reduction in those programs, and then over time those individuals get to a better position in life.”