Republican Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick knew he wasn’t going to make the big-wigs in his party happy Thursday when he voted “no” on their Obamacare replacement bill.
The freshman congressman said he knows the current health care system and the Affordable Care Act, more commonly known as Obamacare, needs retooling but he didn’t feel the bill pushed through the House of Representatives Thursday best represented the constituents of the Eighth Congressional District.
“It’s about doing the right thing each and every time,” Fitzpatrick said during a post-vote phone interview from Washington D.C.
In a county where about 24,000 residents are uninsured, a recent study by the Urban Institute estimated close to 48,000 Bucks Countians could lose coverage if an Obamacare replacement plan isn’t comparable.
Fitzpatrick said he has talked to constituents and medical professionals leading up to the vote. He said he felt he could not vote for the bill and remain true to his campaign promises.
The congressman, who has been framed by supporters as an “independent voice,” said he supports continuation of coverage without a lapse between health care laws, protection for those with pre-existing conditions, working to reduce costs and additional support for programs to tackle the opioid epidemic.
“We need to identify cost drivers (in health care) and bring the costs down,” Fitzpatrick explained.
Another concern of Fitzpatrick was that the bill wasn’t rated by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and he wasn’t aware of the financial impact. The staff at the CBO takes a deep look at legislation and forecasts the cost.
“It will go to the Senate and will look a lot different,” Fitzpatrick said.
Similar to Obamacare in 2010, several Republican congressmen admitted Thursday they did not read the whole GOP health care bill before voting Thursday.
“I read the entire bill and consulted with staff,” Fitzpatrick said, adding his staff helped him digest the measure before he made his decision to cast his “no” vote.
Fitzpatrick was one of 20 Republicans to vote against the bill Thursday afternoon.
Since he took office, constituents, mainly Democrats, have taken part in rallies outside his Middletown office to urge him to fight to protect Obamacare. Many have admitted that the system needs work, but a full repeal would hurt those who need insurance most.
In the hours leading up the vote, Fitzpatrick’s office was flooded with contacts from constituents, mainly urging him to vote against the plan that was celebrated by President Donald Trump.
“I had to stay true to principle,” he said of his vote.