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March 19, 2017

U.S. Rep. Fitzpatrick: 'I cannot support' Republican health care plan

A Republican Pennsylvania congressman has come out against his party's plan to overhaul the nation's health care system, joining a growing number of conservatives in Washington who oppose the legislation.

Newly-elected U.S. Rep. Brian Fitzpatrick, who represents Bucks County and parts of Montgomery County in the state's 8th congressional district, said in a press release Sunday he made the decision after two months of analyzing the issue.

"After considering the current healthcare bill in a thorough and deliberate manner, I have concluded that, although the American Health Care Act focuses on several much-needed reforms to our healthcare system, in its current form I cannot support this legislation," Fitzpatrick said.

The American Health Care Act is being pushed by President Donald Trump's administration and House Speaker Paul Ryan as the Republicans' long-promised replacement to the Affordable Care Act, which is commonly known as Obamacare.

The legislation would, among other things, nix the fine put in place for people who don't carry insurance, replace income-based subsidies with tax credits based on age and cap federal funding to Medicaid.

It would also eliminate the ACA requirement that states cover basic mental health and addiction treatments if those states expanded Medicaid under the bill. That ended up being the key reason Fitzpatrick couldn't support the proposed reform.

"I have many concerns with this bill, and first among them is the impact on the single most important issue plaguing Bucks and Montgomery Counties, and the issue that I have made my priority in Congress: opioid abuse prevention, treatment and recovery," Fitzpatrick said.

Fitzpatrick commended Trump and House leadership for their attempt at fixing the country's "broken" system, and noted that the AHCA is only one of many upcoming proposals that will aim to reform health care.

A number of moderate Republicans in the House came out against the bill after a Congressional Budget Office report stated that 24 million Americans would lose coverage by 2026 under the plan.

Conversely, far-right conservatives have also expressed opposition, saying it doesn't go far enough and is simply a watered-down version of Obamacare.