Don Young may vote ‘no’ on replacing Obamacare

When the bill to replace Obamacare comes to his desk, Rep. Don Young, R-Alaska, isn’t sure how he will vote.

In a conference call with reporters, Young called the atmosphere on Capitol Hill a “bubbling cauldron of indecision,” and he isn’t sure what the final version of the bill in the U.S. House will look like.

Young, who has been a passionate advocate for repeal of the Affordable Care Act (commonly known as Obamacare), said he still believes it should be repealed but doesn’t think the bill backed by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wisconsin, is the best way to do that.

“Right now, I’m not convinced that what we have is the best option,” Young said.

Representatives in the House were expected to be presented with a set of changes Monday night, and a vote on the proposal could come as soon as Thursday.

Young said that before the changes, “Alaska stands to lose the most” in the way of tax credits subsidizing individual Alaskans’ health care plans.

“We are working to see if we can’t make the situation … more equitable,” Young said.

If that doesn’t happen, he indicated that he will vote ‘no’ on the bill, which is being pushed by the leadership of the 435-member U.S. House.

“I’m fighting hard to make sure Alaska’s getting equitable treatment across the board,” Young said.

The margins are surprisingly tight for an idea that appeared to have widespread support among Republicans before the November elections. In the campaign before that election, Republicans promised to repeal Obamacare and replace it with a new system.

After the election, Republican leaders modified their stance and instead proposed a bill that would change elements of the existing system but leave much of it intact.

“It’s not the repeal of Obamacare as we said we were going to do,” Young said.

If House Democrats remain united in opposition to the Republican plan, House leaders can afford to lose the votes of only 21 Republicans, or the bill will fail.

A list kept Monday by the newspaper The Hill indicated 17 Republicans had already said they would vote against the measure. The leader of the House’s conservative 40-person “Freedom Caucus” predicted it would fail if it came up for a vote Thursday.

Speaking to reporters, Young said he favors repealing Obamacare, not modifying it. He would rather the House pass a “one paragraph” repeal effective in 2019 or 2020. Congress would then have two or three years to draft a replacement.

“We could really write a good healthcare bill if we sat down and thought about it,” Young said. “I think we ought to step back, take a deep breath, and say, what do we really want to have?”

 


 

Contact reporter James Brooks at james.k.brooks@juneauempire.com or call 419-7732.

 


 

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