Illinois Congressman On Why He Supports The Republican Health Care Plan

Mar 11, 2017
Originally published on March 11, 2017 10:44 pm
Copyright 2017 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

LAKSHMI SINGH, HOST:

We want to turn now to Congressman Rodney Davis. He is a Republican speaking to us from Decatur, Ill., and he is in favor of the bill being advanced by House Republicans. Congressman Davis, thanks so much for joining us.

RODNEY DAVIS: Thanks for having me on.

SINGH: So please tell us briefly why you are in favor of this bill.

DAVIS: Because the status quo is collapsing. The health insurance marketplace as we know it is not sustainable under the current law. And if we do nothing and watch states like Illinois have to come up with hundreds of millions of dollars under the current law just to keep the Medicaid expansion in place that we have, then I'm abdicating my responsibility as a policymaker. The bill that I'm supporting I'm sure will be changed by the time it goes to the Senate and comes back to us. But I'm looking forward to the debate to make our health care system better than it is today.

SINGH: We just heard from the president of the American Medical Association, who says that this bill will put health insurance out of reach for millions of Americans, especially older, lower-income patients. What do you make of that?

DAVIS: Well, I disagree with the statements. And I've talked to many doctors over my time in Washington over the last four years who were very frustrated with the current status quo, with the Affordable Care Act as implemented. Doctors that I talked to are seeing less patients because of the compliance issues that they have to follow under Obamacare. We want to make the system better, and I look forward to having their input. But I would argue looking in Illinois, where we've had 45 to 55 - and friends of mine have had 87 percent increases in their premiums - Obamacare's already costly. And frankly, the promise for families of saving $2,500 on average did not come true.

SINGH: Well, as you're well aware, there has been pushback from the right as well, a lot of Republicans, especially in the Senate, who say that this bill does not go far enough in repealing the current health care law, the Affordable Care Act, also widely known as Obamacare. Rand Paul has called the Republican plan Obamacare lite. What do you make of his resistance to this current bill?

DAVIS: Well, I know Rand. Rand's a friend of mine. I think this is a publicity stunt, though, that is not based on facts. His own plan has refundable tax credits just like our plan does. You know, I want to make sure that we don't just pull the rug out from those who are dependent on coverage, those who may need the assistance through our Medicaid programs.

I think our program as designed is a great off-ramp to be able to get to a system that's going to be affordable for every single American, that's going to stop the collapsing status quo we know as Obamacare, and also actually be able to provide opportunities for families to get off of Medicaid and then be able to afford the coverage that they need or be offered more affordable coverage through their employers or future employers.

SINGH: Well, Congressman Davis, we know, though, that this is probably not going to be smooth sailing for this bill to be approved. There is enough resistance that there are going to be obstacles to getting to where you want to get. What is it going to take, you think, to get enough Republicans to bend behind this bill finally?

DAVIS: Well, we'll see when we go back next week. I'm part of the deputy whip team, so we'll be asking members what their concerns are. But I would - I would let you know that no major piece of legislation that I've seen go across the House floor in my four years has ever been easy. And this one will be no different. But we also have to remember as Republicans we are now the majority and we have the White House. We have to move from an opposition party to a proposition party. Now's our time to put our ideas forward. And this is going to be a test for the Republicans, no doubt.

SINGH: Congressman Rodney Davis, representing Illinois' 13th District, speaking to us from Decatur. Thank you so much for joining us.

DAVIS: Thanks for having me on. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.