GOP congressman from N.J. not sold on Republican health care plan

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 U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance of New Jersey says he doubts the GOP health care legislation will pass in the Senate in it's current form.

U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance of New Jersey says he doubts the GOP health care legislation will pass in the Senate in it's current form. "I do not think we in the House should be voting on legislation that will not pass the Senate," he says. (AP file photo)

A Republican congressman from New Jersey is raising serious doubts about his party’s bill to overhaul health care.

U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance of Hunterdon County — who has a district that stretches across the state — said he’s leaning against voting for the GOP health care bill.

“I don’t think the vote will pass in the Senate in it’s current form, and I do not think we in the House should be voting on legislation that will not pass the Senate,” Lance said Wednesday. “I would like to see bipartisan cooperation — and cooperation between the House and the Senate as well.”

Analysis from the Congressional Budget Office showing 14 million fewer people would be covered under the Republican plan next year changed the climate on Capitol Hill, he said.

Even though he’s known as a fiscal conservative and the plan would help cut the federal deficit, Lance said that by itself is not enough to get him on board.

“Certainly that is a component in the bill that moves in the right direction,” he said. “I do want to make sure, however, that states that have expanded Medicaid, including — New Jersey — have the ability at least to some extent to do so.”

More than 550,000 more New Jerseyans have coverage because of Medicaid expansion; right now, federal tax dollars pay for most of it.

“I’m not sure the federal match can stay at 90 percent where it is now,” he said. “But New Jersey-expanded Medicaid was a bipartisan effort between Gov. Christie and the Democratically controlled Legislature, and I think that has been a positive in New Jersey.”

Lance said he’s hoping the Democrats will participate in the final reform of the system, but U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, a Pennsylvania Democrat, doesn’t sound as if he’s willing to join in any compromise.

“This is a scheme by extreme Republicans in Congress and the president and his team,” Casey said Wednesday. “And I use that word purposefully because a scheme is an action that is meant to mislead, and I think that is what they are trying to do here.”

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