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VIDEO: Sanford explains why he voted 'Yes' to GOP healthcare bill

Sanford on AHCA: Don't panic, the debate isn't over

Now that the GOP healthcare bill has passed in the House, Senators are the next ones to decide if the American Health Care Act will replace the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare).

The AHCA (also called H.R. 1628) passed the House by just four votes with all Democrats and 20 Republicans voting no. You can find the bill in its entirety here.

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The passage in the House has sparked vitriolic responses and promises of rallies to sway senators to vote no.

"I think that people need to take a breath," said Rep. Mark Sanford. "People need to relax and realize this is simply continuing the debate in the Senate. That's all this bill did today."

"People are a little apocalyptic in their view of this," Sanford said. "What I like about this bill is that in South Carolina we saw a 30 percent increase in premiums last year for folks in the individual marketplace. And so what this bill is trying to get at is protecting people with pre-existing conditions and really adverse health conditions while at the same time allowing insurance to be insurance for the vast preponderance of people that are in the individual marketplace who don't want to see a 30 percent increase in their premiums."

Sanford made note of his change of heart saying he was one of the three Republicans who voted against the AHCA back in March.

"The reason we allowed this to go forward was there were a number of different amendments that were included that ultimately protected people with pre-existing conditions and at the same time allowed state to try different things that might work for them."

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Whether the AHCA passes as-is in the Senate or is amended, Sanford says something needs to replace the ACA because it's not working.

"What I heard from so many small business people was that 'I'm dying, I'm out here stuck in the middle, I don't have group health insurance, I'm on the individual marketplace and I'm restricted now to just one choice in South Carolina and my premiums went up by 30 percent' so it's (the AHCA) trying to do something about that."

U.S. House Assistant Democratic Leader James Clyburn released the following statement.

“Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong opposition to the Republicans’ Pay More, For Less Health Care Plan. I often repeat the 1966 observation of Martin Luther King, Jr. that, “Of all the inequalities that exist, the injustice in Health Care is the most egregious and inhumane.” On the day it was passed, I observed that the Affordable Care Act is the Civil Rights Act of the 21st Century. Repealing the ACA would be inhumane and put egregious forms of discrimination back into our health care delivery system.

“My Republican colleagues and President Trump have promised more coverage and less costs for everyone. However, this Republican plan would allow all states to eliminate Essential Health Benefits, such as maternity and newborn coverage, prescription drugs, hospitalization, emergency coverage, and mental health services. It would also allow states to tax older Americans 5 times more than younger Americans.

“Republicans are reneging on their promises to protect Americans with pre-existing conditions. Without essential health benefits standards, protections for those with pre-existing conditions would exist in name only. Repeal of essential health benefits would drive a race to the bottom, with insurers dropping coverage for everything from chemotherapy to high-cost drugs.

“It would precipitate a proliferation of junk policies that have historically plagued unsuspecting low income communities. People with pre-existing conditions – who need these and other costly services – wouldn’t be able to find the coverage they need at any price, much less an affordable one.

“When my mother was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma in the month of January doctors told us she had only 8 months to live. She had insurance. But her insurance ran out before her 55th birthdate, 2 months later. To keep her comfortable for the last few months of her life, we spent every dime she had spent a lifetime saving.

“We took a giant step away from such with the ACA, but this Republican bill takes us back to that era, an era where people with pre-existing conditions are left in the cold.

“Adding money to a state slush fund is not a solution. If this were to pass Americans would jump from state to state depending on which states they perceive as having the better plans. Make no mistake, insurance companies would once again be allowed to sell, what could only be called “junk policies.” This would be a giant step backward.

“Repealing the ACA would once again institutionalize the kind of discrimination against the sick and aged that has plagued hard working families for generations. Passing this bill would turn the clock back on civil rights and civility.”

U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham released the following.

“I look forward to carefully reviewing the House-passed legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare. My primary duty and job is to ensure this bill – if it were to become law – would be beneficial to the people of South Carolina. Only after a careful review of the legislation, as well as discussions with the interested stakeholders across South Carolina, will I know the answer to that question. I do know the revised bill is an improvement over the first attempt.

“Obamacare is a disaster and every day brings fresh evidence that it is moving toward collapse.

“Just yesterday Iowa announced that the sole statewide health care provider on the Obamacare exchange may be pulling out. In South Carolina, the situation is not much different as we are down to one provider on our Obamacare exchange. And that provider – Blue Cross Blue Shield – has already expressed doubts about whether they can afford to continue to offer their product.

“Today’s House vote – where every Democrat voted in opposition – also shows that Democrats in Congress are committed to protecting Obamacare. They refuse to face up to the fact that Obamacare is on the verge of collapse. Until they accept this reality, I believe they will refuse to work with President Trump and Republicans on health care reform.

“I believe it may take Obamacare’s collapse before the parties are willing to work together in a bipartisan manner. The collapse and replace of Obamacare may prove to be the most effective path forward. Only then – and by working together – can we make improvements in health care for millions of Americans.”

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