Coffman says ‘no’ to latest plan to replace Obamacare, bill still passes House


AURORA | Rep. Mike Coffman made good on his announcement that he would vote against the Republican’s latest attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare.

Coffman released a statement Thursday morning explaining his “no” vote on the American Health Care Act hours before the Republican-backed plan passed through the House on a 217-213 vote count. Republicans in the House had announced before the vote they have enough votes to pass it even without Coffman’s support. 

Coffman was joined by 20 House Republicans in voting against the AHCA.

“At this time, I cannot support the AHCA with the MacArthur amendment because I’m concerned that a small percentage of those with pre-existing conditions may still not be protected. This does not take away from the fact that the Affordable Care Act is failing and American families are hurting,” Coffman said in a release. “In my conversations with House leadership and the Administration over the last 72 hours, I made it clear that additional language was necessary to protect this vulnerable group.”

Coffman also said he couldn’t vote for the bill without knowing the full price tag. The bill was pushed to a vote before the Congressional Budget Office has had a chance to measure the impact of the AHCA on the budget and on how many people’s coverage could be affected.

The CBO estimated the last version of the AHCA would cause 24 million people to lose their health insurance coverage by 2024, which caused many lawmakers including Coffman to balk at the bill.

Coffman was the only Colorado Republican representative to vote against the AHCA. Reps. Scott Tipton, Ken Buck and Doug Lamborn all supported the bill.

“With this vote, we have ended the individual mandate, blocked federal funding from going to Planned Parenthood and other abortion providers, phased out Medicaid expansion, reduced regulations and taxes, and gutted Obamacare,” Lamborn said in a statement. “I hope that the Senate is able to build upon the good work done by the House and deliver a strong bill to the President.”

Lamborn represents Colorado’s 5th Congressional District, which includes Colorado Springs.

Colorado politicians and advocates were quick to sound off Thursday afternoon once House Republicans were able to muster enough votes to pass the newest version of Trumpcare.

“Today, House Republicans, including Scott Tipton, Doug Lamborn, and Ken Buck voted to take affordable health care away from 600,000 Coloradans in order to pay for a $600 billion tax cut for the wealthiest few,”Colorado Democratic party Chair Morgan Carroll, who lost to Coffman in 2016, said in a statement. “This dangerous bill hurts older Coloradans, women, and people with pre-existing conditions, leaving our most vulnerable populations unprotected.” 

Rep. Ed Perlmutter, who announced he will run to replace Gov. John Hickenlooper when his final term ends in 2018, slammed Republicans for the changes included in the AHCA.

“Protecting people with pre-existing conditions was at the heart of the ACA and eliminating this protection is eliminating a civil right,” Perlmutter said. “Under the Republican plan, states will be able to opt out of requiring insurance companies to provide essential health benefits, which includes maternity and pediatric services, outpatient care, substance abuse and mental health treatment and prescription drug coverage. This plan puts tens of millions of Americans at risk of losing their health insurance coverage and it discriminates against seniors through higher rates.”

Coffman had been a focal point for advocates working to peel Republican votes away from the AHCA in the House. Now that the bill moves to the Senate, Sen. Cory Gardner will become the focus for opponents of the ACA’s repeal and replacement. 

Gardner was the main focus in many comments after the ACHA passed, including the statement from Healthier Colorado, a nonprofit health care advocacy group.

“Colorado needs leadership from Sen. (Michael) Bennet and Sen. Gardner in rejecting this legislation in its entirety. All of Colorado stands to lose under this bill, but rural communities like Sen. Gardner’s hometown of Yuma will be hit the hardest,” said Jake Williams, executive director of Healthier Colorado. “Rural hospitals and the programs and protections upon which rural communities depend will be decimated if this bill passes. Instead of delivering self-inflicted blows to our health and economy, we can and should be making a genuine effort to develop needed improvements to the Affordable Care Act.”

After the AHCA passed in the House, Gardner released a statement calling the ACA broken and said he looked forward on working on the new bill.

“Without congressional action, insurance companies have predicted double digit increases on the individual market for plan year 2018, in addition to the double digit increases Coloradans were hit with in the year prior. I look forward to working with my colleagues to complete a measure that leads to more choices, lower costs and improved care for all Coloradans,” Gardner’s statement read.