The House of Representatives passed a health care bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act on Thursday with Congressman Steve Knight’s (R-Palmdale) support.
Knight was one of the 217 Republicans to vote yes on the American Health Care Act, which will now move forward to the Senate.
“I believe that our nation’s families deserve a health care system that is affordable and sustainable, not just for the next five years, but for generations to come,” Knight said in a statement. “The reality is that the Affordable Care Act is failing across the country by making care more expensive and in many places, severely limiting choices.”
The 25th district’s representative previously told constituents he did not stand in favor or against a repeal of the ACA but said he had concerns about it.
He assured attendees at a town hall meeting in Palmdale on March 4 that he wanted to provide Americans with more options and more products without raising premiums.
Knight had also said he felt any new health care bill should be released online to garner feedback before it was voted on.
However, Knight and a small group of his colleagues cosponsored an amendment which adds $8 billion more to fund “high-risk pools’’ for millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions.
According to Knight, the House passing this bill is a good first step, and said he looks forward to working with colleagues to address problems with the Affordable Care Act.
About 30 people gathered at Steve Knight’s Santa Clarita office Thursday afternoon to protest his vote and show their support for Planned Parenthood, whose funding is at risk if the legislation were to pass.
New tax credits created under the bill cannot be spent on abortions, according to a report in the Los Angeles Times. That language would affect Californians who receive tax credits to pay for insurance.
As the group marched in a circle around the parking lot, they chanted, “Knight, Knight, we’re not going to go without a fight.”
Celinda Vazquez, Vice President of Public Affairs for Planned Parenthood Los Angeles, led the rally of women and men in pink Planned Parenthood shirts.
“We are devastated at the vote Knight took today to take away the Affordable Care Act,” Vazquez said. “We will not go back. We stand will Planned Parenthood.”
Novelyn Aquino shared her story of how Planned Parenthood detected her breast cancer and said she has been using the organization’s services since she was 16 years old. She said since cancer affects everyone, Planned Parenthood’s services are applicable to all people.
“Planned Parenthood was something I could count on,” Aquino said. “I’m saddened by what Congress has done today.”
Knight appealed to constituents by saying he understands the challenges they face under the ACA because his wife is a nurse.
As the ACA is “failing” in other states by making care more expensive and limiting choices, it will eventually fail in California and requires action, Knight said.
Valencia resident Emily Ball, who attended Thursday’s rally, said her disappointment about Knight’s vote and the bill’s approval by the House encouraged her to come and said her protesting will continue.
“I know that the bill has a long way to go before it’s signed by the president,” Ball said. “We’re going to fight every day.
Santa Clarita Valley local Ed Brand said his main concern with the American Health Care Act is it’s neglect of people with pre-existing conditions.
“I think it’s a travesty,” Brand said.
National Republican Congressional Committee spokesman Jack Pandol supported Knight’s vote, saying the congressman kept his promises regarding legislative efforts.
“While Democrats fight desperately to keep the failed status quo in place, Steve Knight is moving forward with a plan to improve access to healthcare and lower costs for California families,” Pandol said in a statement. “We thank Knight for keeping his promise to protect families in his district from Obamacare’s crushing effects.”
American Medical Association President Andrew W. Gurman, M.D. condemned the bill’s passage in a statement of his own.
“The bill passed by the House today will result in millions of Americans losing access to quality, affordable health insurance and those with pre-existing health conditions face the possibility of going back to the time when insurers could charge them premiums that made access to coverage out of the question,” Gurman said in the statement.
He did add, however, that improvements should be made to the current insurance system for health care.
Out of the representatives who voted, 20 Republicans and all 193 Democrats voted against the bill.
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