On Friday, Congressman Paul Gosar forced Speaker Paul Ryan to pull a vote on his rehab of Obamacare. Gosar, who voted against a procedural measure midday Friday that prevented the vote, contradicted Ryan’s claims that they were “very close” to a vote.
“I don’t know that they were very close. You know, the thing about it is that when you don’t have a transparent, open process, and you jam it through five timetables; it doesn’t work. Then when you’re caught, and you’re trying to put things in, and you’re told you can’t put things in because the rules of the Senate don’t allow it, and then you go to the rules of the Senate, and they actually say you can; you got trouble, ” Gosar said in an appearance on the James T. Harris radio show after the vote.
Listen to the interview here
Gosar, a member of the Freedom Caucus, told Harris that Ryan’s “crude bill” would not “lower health care premiums for the average American out there. It would actually result in a raise, and that’s not what we told them. We told them we were going to repeal and replace, and lower healthcare costs, and that’s not what we were delivering. We did not repeal Obamacare in this bill, and we were going to see premiums and health care costs escalate.”
“What ended up happening,” said Gosar, “is you never get to bucket number two or three if you don’t repeal the statutes.” Gosar argued that if the Congress did not completely repeal Obamacare and ended up with Ryan’s rehab, Secretary Tom Price could not make the necessary regulatory changes that were supposed to be in Ryan’s number two and three buckets, due to the Administrative Procedures Act. Gosar said that only Congress can change the statute and questioned what would happen if the “Secretary doesn’t change it in a positive manner? Then the courts intervene, and so you’re not going to get those changes.”
“There are some things,” said Gosar, “that you can get to, and in bucket number three we got one of my things. In fact, we got one of my things that I’ve been pushing, and that’s to break up the Sherman Antitrust exemption for the medical insurance industry; making them compete for a dollars across-the-board. We actually passed that this week.” That measure passed on a vote of 416 to 7. “That’s the biggest problem here, if you’re in court and you don’t repeal, you’re not going to get to these buckets.”
“I don’t know what they were thinking,” said Gosar, “because it kept a lot of the pieces that were Obamacare. The Medicaid expansion was extended to 2020; in a presidential year. Who in their right mind – when they’re trying to run for re-election – is going to say ‘no’ to funding for expansion of Medicare or Medicaid? It just doesn’t make sense, and it will never happen according to what we’re hearing back in the Beltway.”
Gosar complained that Ryan was “misrepresenting reconciliation and the requirements from it.”
“We were told that a lot of things we were asking for would not qualify under reconciliation, and lo and behold, when we started engaging the Parliamentarian in the Senate – with our friends in the Senate – they found out that they,” said Gosar referring to the Parliamentarian, “had not been talked to, and that they actually did find that these things fell under reconciliation.”
“We were jammed up and told that ‘this is as good as you’re going to get’ and we just said ‘listen we promised the American people that we were going to do this right.’ Healthcare is one- fifth of the GDP. We’ve got to do it right, and we said ‘nope it’s not worth it.’”
Gosar said the matter is not dead. “I don’t look at it as a setback,” said Gosar. “I look at it as a timeout. This is a basketball game, and we took the first time out. The American people are deserving of good legislation that has the light of everyone on it so everyone understands what’s happening.”
Gosar said, “Moms and dads who are working two and three jobs, living from paycheck to paycheck, want to see a reward of at least having a choice of their doctor, or lower premiums. That’s what we promised.” Gosar continued, “It behooves us to be honest with ourselves. We don’t jam something down to get rid of the taxes on Obamacare so we can go back to tax reform. So we don’t have to deal with the $9 billion in Obamacare taxes and skip on the policy changes that are required so that we get affordable health care to people. That’s the problem here. So, I look at it as we took a time out. Tempers and emotions can calm down. We’ll come back and we’re almost there, but you know what? The Senate has told us they’re not even going to take this up until May. So we have five weeks’ time to cool down.”
“If I’m the average person back home, and I’m told we’re going to work on the repeal and replace of Obamacare, but we’re not going to repeal it, and we are looking to keep the majority of the infrastructure in place, and it’s going to cost you more in the next two years, I am going to ask; what’s wrong with this picture? I thought we were sent back there to listen to us; not disrespect us,” said Gosar.
President Donald Trump echoed Gosar’s assessment that the matter was not dead, and called it an opportunity to work with Democrats.
One Democrat, Gosar’s neighbor, Rep. Tom O’Halleran, shared Gosar’s call for transparency and saw Ryan’s failure as “positive opportunity to start on real work for rural Arizona, those nearing retirement, and hardworking families.”
“The American people made their voices heard,” said O’Halleran in a statement released after Ryan’s announcement. “This health care bill would have devastated our rural and tribal communities, harmed seniors, and eliminated tax credits for veterans eligible for government health care. Now we must get serious about crafting a bipartisan bill that improves our health care system and brings down the costs of health care and insurance premiums.”
“We need an open, transparent process that includes input from industry leaders and experts. No legislation should be drafted in closed-door meetings, hidden from the public,” continued O’Halleran. “Neither party has all the solutions to our greatest challenges, and partisan gridlock is only setting us back. I continue to urge my colleagues to stop playing political games with the health and well being of the American people and work together.”