Congressional Republicans during a private meeting Thursday morning agonized over how best to repeal and replace Obamacare, a discussion that highlighted the vast divisions among the GOP rank-in-file, according to an audio recording of the session received by POLITICO.
House and Senate lawmakers during the Republican retreat in Philadelphia debated how best to create an affordable health care alternative that won’t swell the debt but that also protects the more than 20 million people who have benefited from Obama’s health care law.
One of the most pointed debates centered on what to do about the Obamacare Medicaid expansion. During a question and answer session, House Judiciary Committee Chairman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.) encouraged the room to repeal the entire expansion because the nation cannot afford it.
“Getting ahold of the Medicaid expansion and repealing that is absolutely critical if we’re going to have control of the growth of entitlement spending,” he said.
Goodlatte warned that some states that took advantage of the Medicaid expansion were going to want to keep that pot of money, but “other states like mine that have not expanded … they want to be proven that they were right originally.”
“We can’t afford this when we have $20 trillion in national debt,” said Goodlatte, whose office did not return request for comment.
Several Republicans disagreed with him. A senator who spoke after Goodlatte, but could not be identified on the tape, said, “We want to take care of the needy in our communities.”
Republicans in Virginia’s General Assembly have persistently refused to approve expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. According to the Healthcare for All Virginians website:
As a result of this inaction, hundreds of thousands of low-income adults fall into a coverage gap. With income below the poverty line, they are too poor to qualify for subsidized insurance from the federal Marketplace, but they make too much money to qualify for Virginia’s current Medicaid program.
If Virginia lawmakers close this coverage gap, nearly 400,000 Virginians across the Commonwealth could get access to quality, affordable health insurance.
These are not the lazy welfare cheats that Republicans love to rail against. These are working people who are going without health insurance because Republicans in the General Assembly, with Goodlatte’s full approval, are standing in the way.
So it’s not enough for Goodlatte that hundreds of thousands of Virginians are being denied health insurance. He wants to deprive 15 million residents of the 32 states that have adopted Medicaid expansion of the insurance they currently have.