U.S. Rep. Vern Buchanan early Thursday went on the record in support of a proposed Republican plan to replace the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.
Buchanan, R-Longboat Key, and other Republicans on the House Ways and Means Committee approved the American Health Care Act in a 23-16 party line vote. It was the first vote on the effort by President Donald Trump and the GOP to repeal and replace the ACA.
“This is an important first step toward restoring choice and affordability to health care for all Americans,” Buchanan said in a statement. “This bill replaces a failing government-run program that forces people to buy insurance with a system based on choice, free markets and competition.”
The bill’s ultimate fate is uncertain. It must pass through at least two other committees before a full House vote and overcome opposition from some conservative Republicans in the House. Several Republican senators have also expressed concerns about the bill.
Buchanan said the AHCA would provide protection for people with pre-existing health conditions, allow children to stay on their parents’ plans until they are 26 and eliminate lifetime caps on coverage.
Buchanan said that in his 16th Congressional District, which includes all of Manatee and Sarasota counties and part of Hillsborough County, a family of four on Obamacare had seen its monthly health insurance premium jump by 16 percent to $1,000 a month. The average yearly deductible for a family of four is now more than $7,000, according to Buchanan.