In surprise, Republican says he's a no on healthcare bill

In surprise, Republican says he's a no on healthcare bill
© Greg Nash

Rep. Billy Long (R-Mo.) said Monday that he opposes the revised GOP ObamaCare replacement bill because it weakens protections for people with pre-existing conditions. 

Long’s announcement was unexpected, and a bad sign for GOP leaders looking to round up enough votes to be able to pass the measure as soon as this week. Long was not on the radar as a possible no vote. 

“I have always stated that one of the few good things about ObamaCare is that people with pre-existing conditions would be covered,” Long said in a statement. “The MacArthur amendment strips away any guarantee that pre-existing conditions would be covered and affordable.”

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The amendment from Rep. Tom MacArthur (R-N.J.) is a revision to the bill that brought on board most of the conservative House Freedom Caucus. 

It allows states to apply for a waiver for one of ObamaCare’s core protections for people with pre-existing conditions, known as community rating. If that were repealed, insurers could go back to charging sick people exorbitant premiums, which could put coverage out of reach. 

Backers of the MacArthur amendment note that states would have to set up high-risk pools to subsidize coverage for sick people, and that people who maintained coverage without gaps would still be protected from higher premiums. 

Long’s statement, though, illustrates that the move to the right on pre-existing conditions risks losing other lawmakers concerned about the changes.