Ken Buck: Coalition to repeal Obamacare is ‘fragile’
May 5, 2017
The American Health Care Act passed the House on Thursday 217-213. All but one member of the Colorado’s Republican delegation, including Republican Rep. Ken Buck voted for the measure. Mike Coffman was the lone Colorado Republican to vote against the measure.
Windsor Republican Rep. Ken Buck said Friday the passage of the American Health Care Act represents an important step forward for Americans who need health insurance, but he acknowledged this week's legislative victory for Republicans is tenuous.
The next hurdle, Buck said, will be to get the bill — which would repeal and replace parts of Obamacare — through the Senate. He said he has no idea what to expect from that chamber.
"I hope they realize that there is a fragile coalition in the House for this bill," he said. "I hope they don't intend to make too many changes because it will be tough to get it through the House again."
For their part, Senate Republicans gave early signals Friday they were likely to completely rewrite the House bill. The outspoken and immediate skepticism pointed to a long road ahead in the Senate.
Buck said the coalition in the House is fragile because of broad disagreements among Republicans about how to repeal and replace Obamacare, which is officially called the Affordable Care Act.
"The challenge is that there are a lot of conservatives like me, who don't want to see the government involved in health care," he said. "There are a lot of other Republicans that want to see a better ACA. How you get those groups together to form a majority was the challenge."
Still, Buck said there is urgency to pass something.
"I think it's a very difficult challenge to recognize that the Affordable Care Act was in a death spiral — is in a death spiral — and try to fix it and create some longer term structural changes that will really make it sustainable."
Pointing to media reports, he said real problems exist for the insurance exchanges that are a big part of Obamacare. He said one showed 15 Colorado counties have only one insurer on the exchange, which means no choice for consumers in those counties and no competition.
"The structure of the ACA is really falling apart," he said.
For their part, some Democrats said they were willing to fix problems with Obamacare, but they called the House bill a misfire.
"Today's bill takes us in exactly the wrong direction," Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., said in a news release after the bill's passage. "This misguided approach would cause hundreds of thousands of Coloradans to lose their coverage, with those in our rural communities hit the hardest."
Bennet also raised concerns the American Health Care Act would leave too many Americans with preexisting conditions out in the cold.
"For people who are allowed to keep their coverage, it will reduce benefits and increase costs," he said. "I will do everything I can to stop this legislation in the Senate."
Buck said he's sure the measure will adequately provide for those with preexisting conditions.
"It's a hot-button issue," he said. "Every Republican I know feels very strongly that we need to make sure we cover that. I'm as confident as anything in this bill that preexisting conditions will be covered."
— The Associated Press contributed to this report