How N.J. Republicans are voting on the GOP’s bill to repeal Obamacare

 U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur takes questions at a town hall in Waretown, New Jersey, on March 6. (Emma Lee/WHYY, file)

U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur takes questions at a town hall in Waretown, New Jersey, on March 6. (Emma Lee/WHYY, file)

Some are taking positions. Others are biding their time.

But come Thursday New Jersey’s five Republican Congressmen will have to cast their votes for or against the GOP’s plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

The Republican plan, officially called the American Health Care Act, would dramatically roll back the expansion of Medicaid and eliminate the individual mandate that forced people to buy health insurance.

U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur, who announced his position on the ACHA Tuesday, said he plans to vote “yes” on the bill in light of amendments to the legislation made earlier this week.

“I’ve always said that repairing our health care system is about people — not politics,” MacArthur said in a statement.

MacArthur, whose district covers parts of Burlington and Ocean Counties, had been calling for an increase in how much the government spends on senior citizens and disabled people on Medicaid, a federal program that provides health care to 70 million low-income Americans.

He also wanted more generous tax credits than were originally included in the ACHA for Americans aged 50-64 who cannot afford high health insurance premiums.

Both of those changes made it into the most recent version of the bill, but a report by the Brookings Institution on Tuesday said the changes would not drastically change estimates by the Congressional Budget Office of how many people would lose coverage under the Republican plan.

Last week the CBO estimated that 14 million people would lose coverage next year under the ACHA, and that the number of uninsured would jump to 24 million people by 2026.

U.S. Rep. Leonard Lance, a Republican from North Jersey, is casting a “no” vote for the bill, saying earlier this week that “the AHCA in its current form does not have my support.”

Lance’s decision came after a meeting with President Trump in the Oval Office. Lance praised Trump for his outreach but said the meeting did not change his position.

“Our conversation centered on how the bill does not make health care more affordable, improve access or provide a smooth transition for those forced into Obamacare,” Lance said in a statement.

U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo posted on Facebook that he would also vote against the plan.

“Under the current proposal, many South Jersey residents would be left with financial hardship or without the coverage they now receive. Our seniors on Medicare already struggle to make each dollar stretch. Three South Jersey counties have more than 30 percent of their residents receiving Medicaid assistance. Medical professionals – our hospitals, doctors, nurses – are opposed,” read part of the post.  

He said he appreciated work by Speaker Paul Ryan and the House Republican leadership, but said “unfortunately” he can’t vote for the bill.

New Jersey’s two other Republican Congressmen — U.S. Rep. Chris Smith, and U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen — have not publicly said how they will vote on the ACHA this Thursday.

No New Jersey Democrats are expected to vote for the bill.

The Republican plan could have major implications for New Jersey, which expanded Medicaid under the ACA and saw enrollments go up.

A report released earlier this week by New Jersey Policy Perspective, a left-leaning think tank, estimated that 476,000 residents across the state would lose coverage under the Republican plan.

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