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Health care act comes up short, U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford says

by Frank E. Lockwood | March 8, 2017 at 4:30 a.m.

U.S. Rep. Rick Crawford opposes new legislation aimed at repealing and replacing the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, saying it doesn't go far enough to reverse the health care law.

The Republican from Jonesboro was the first member of the Arkansas congressional delegation to reject the bill, which has the backing of House Speaker Paul Ryan and President Donald Trump.

"I can't support the American Health Care Act proposed by Republican leadership because it doesn't fully repeal Obamacare, which is primarily why my constituents sent me to Washington," Crawford said in a written statement released Tuesday evening. "Arkansans need health care reform that eliminates failed policy and starts from scratch, giving conservatives a real opportunity to create an environment for the free market to address the problems in our healthcare industry."

The lawmaker said he feared that the bill's refundable tax credit would "essentially create a new entitlement program." He also expressed concerns that it would push the nation further into debt.

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"[T]he Congressional Budget Office has yet to score the legislation, leaving us to wonder if this bill will increase the deficit and deepen our nation's fiscal problems," he said.

"I am eager to support a bill that truly reforms healthcare for my constituents and the American people, but I can't support this bill in its current form," he added.

Crawford's announcement came less than 24 hours after the legislation was unveiled. His Arkansas colleagues -- all Republicans -- haven't yet stated how they'll vote.

One, U.S. Rep. Steve Womack of Rogers, traveled to the White House on Tuesday along with House leaders to discuss the legislation with the president.

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In a written statement, Womack predicted that the new plan would be an improvement over the status quo.

"While I'm still reviewing the legislation, I am confident that the House Republican plan will lower costs and empower patients to make the right health care decisions for themselves and their families."

The other members of the delegation declined to comment on the merits of the measure.

U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman of Hot Springs will need time to study the bill, according to his spokesman, Ryan Saylor.

U.S. Rep. French Hill of Little Rock said he looks forward to reviewing the measure.

In an interview Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Tom Cotton of Dardanelle said he hadn't read the proposal yet.

"I broadly support the goals of repealing Obamacare and trying to make health insurance more affordable for all Arkansans, to reduce the cost of their premiums, give them more choice over the kinds of policies they receive and to ensure that we have a smooth transition from Obamacare to a new system, but I can't comment yet on the specific House proposal," he said.

U.S. Sen. John Boozman of Rogers will need some time to look over the plan, his spokesman Patrick Creamer said.

A Section on 03/08/2017

Print Headline: Health care act comes up short, Crawford says

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