March 21, 2017
President Donald Trump has lost another Pennsylvania Republican congressman in his bid to push through a replacement to the Affordable Care Act. This time, it's because the legislation allegedly isn't tough enough on illegal immigration.
U.S. Rep. Lou Barletta, who represents a swath of south-central and northeastern Pennsylvania in the 11th Congressional District, said in a statement late Monday night that he "cannot support the bill in its current form."
"I am concerned that the bill lacks sufficient safeguards for verifying whether or not an individual applying for health care tax credits is lawfully in this country and eligible to receive them," Barletta said.
Barletta has made illegal immigration the focal point of his political platform, first addressing the issue as mayor of Hazleton when he approved a city ordinance that took away licenses from businesses and landlords that employed and gave residence to undocumented immigrants. That ordinance was struck down in court.
Referencing a report from Senate Republicans, the congressman claimed that a half million people received $750 million in health care subsidies under the ACA, also commonly known as Obamacare.
Barletta, an early Trump supporter who was part of the president's transition team, added that he couldn't support the Republican plan, dubbed the American Health Care Act, because it didn't address this problem.
"The repeal and replacement of Obamacare will be a multi-phase process, but until my concerns are met, I cannot at this point support the bill," Barletta said.
Barletta joins a number of Republican lawmakers who have come out against the legislation, which is being billed as the centerpiece and first step in the GOP's long-promised plan to repeal and replace the ACA.
Bucks County U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick said over the weekend he couldn't support the bill because it would eliminate the ACA requirement that states cover basic mental health and addiction treatments if those states expanded Medicaid under the bill.
Fitzpatrick joined a number of fellow moderate Republicans who oppose the AHCA because of the predicted 24 million people who will lose coverage if it's enacted. Several of those on the far right have also come out against it, essentially calling it a watered-down Obamacare.
Republicans unveiled a modified version of the bill Monday in an attempt to cater to Conservatives' concerns, but it's still unclear if the tweaked legislation will have enough votes to pass.