Posted by Curt on 15 May, 2017 at 8:11 pm. 1 comment.


Alexandra DeSanctis:

As the Senate deliberates over the American Health Care Act (AHCA), attempting to develop a version of the bill that can secure the necessary 50 votes, one of the men who played an essential role in getting the bill through the House is recovering from a rough week away from Washington.

While holding town halls at home in New Jersey’s third district, Representative Tom MacArthur has faced outrage from constituents over his amendment to the AHCA, which allowed the bill to pass the House on May 4 after an initial version was scuttled in late March. Chief among their complaints is the repeated assertion that millions of Americans with pre-existing conditions will be forced off their health-care plans as a result of the bill.

MacArthur has a good read on why these claims are cropping up so frequently. “Some people say it because they don’t understand the bill,” he tells National Review in an interview. “But some people say it more cynically, because they’re trying to get political advantage out of it, and I have no use for that.”

Regardless of the motives of people opposed to the AHCA, MacArthur strongly disagrees with these claims, which he thinks do a disservice to Americans who are sincerely worried about their health-care futures. “There are many people who are scared to death right now and they’ve been thrown into fear by lies and half-truths and mischaracterizations,” he says.

In fact, MacArthur was inspired to develop his amendment because of concerns about the way the existing health-insurance market was going into a “death spiral,” harming countless Americans in the process. His 30 years working in the insurance business, along with his personal experience of the American health-care system’s problems, gave him a better understanding of the issue than most.

Though MacArthur doesn’t mention her by name in our interview, his experience with his daughter Grace, who had special needs and who died at the age of eleven as a result, informs his approach to the health-care debate. During her short life, Grace’s medical bills reached $1 million, and that experience taught MacArthur the value of good insurance, shaping his desire to be involved in reforming the health-care sector so that others in similarly difficult situations could afford coverage.

During town halls last week, MacArthur tried to demonstrate his understanding of those challenging circumstances by telling the story of his family’s decision to take Grace off life support. The crowd wasn’t interested. He was booed and shouted down by his constituents, who accused him of using his daughter as a political prop to justify taking away health care from others.

But MacArthur’s story is key to understanding why he cares so deeply about fixing health care, and it reveals the reasoning behind his last-ditch effort to save the AHCA. As he watched insurance carriers pull out of the Obamacare exchanges, leaving many states with just one or two options, he says he knew he couldn’t let the AHCA die without a fight.

“What prompted me to act was seeing what I believe is going to end in millions of people losing their insurance coverage and knowing that there are things we could do about it,” he explains. After the first version of the House bill didn’t make it to a vote, he was determined to help find a compromise.

MacArthur was inspired to develop his amendment because of concerns about the way the existing health-insurance market was going into a ‘death spiral.’

And he did. His amendment struck the difficult balance between the moderate and conservative Republican stances on health-care reform by offering states a limited waiver from essential health benefits and some community-rating rules, though not those regarding gender, age, and health status (with the exception of states that choose to institute high-risk pools for the seriously ill).

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