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Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan: Obamacare 'Needs To Be Repealed'


Republicans have pledged to repeal the Affordable Care Act ever since - well, ever since it was enacted in 2010. And now with control of the House and Senate and with Donald Trump as president, they may be within weeks of doing just that. We're joined now by Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio. He's a Republican who's also a member at the House Freedom Caucus. Congressman, thanks so much for being with us.

JIM JORDAN: You bet, good to be with you.

SIMON: The end of the Affordable Care Act is at hand.

JORDAN: Yeah. I mean, that's - look, I start from the premise I think health care will be better and less expensive when Obamacare is repealed. It needs to be repealed because that's what we told the voters we're going to do. It was a huge part of this last campaign. That's what they expect us to do. So let's repeal it. Let's do it as quickly as possible, and let's put in place a model that is patient-centered, doctor-centered, family-centered, not Washington-focused like we have now with the Affordable Care Act.

SIMON: But a lot of the polls suggest that, for example, Americans like the coverage for preexisting condition. They like the fact that people can stay on their parents' insurance until they're 26.

JORDAN: Yeah, but what they don't like is the things they were told that turned out not to be true, statements like if you like your plan you can keep it, statements like if you like your doctor you can keep your doctor, statements like premiums will go down, deductibles will go down, emergency room visits will go down. They didn't. They went up. Deductibles went up. Premiums went up. The website will work. So everything we were told turned out to be false, and that's why this law is so unpopular, and that's why you saw the results you did on Election Day.

SIMON: But there are tens of millions more Americans who have health care coverage, many for the first time in their lives, aren't there?

JORDAN: There is certainly some of that. And no one's denying that we need to make sure that there are some people who in our social safety net system will need some assistance and some help. No one's denying that. The speaker of the House has said that himself. But that doesn't dismiss the fact that this thing was sold on all those false claims and has been a complete disaster for the American health care market. So let's completely repeal it, and let's put in place a system that is patient-centered, not Washington-centered.

SIMON: Well, what would you say to tens of millions of Americans who might worry that in the distance between repeal and agreeing on a new system they could lose coverage, they could lose care?

JORDAN: I think you're confusing a couple things, Scott. Look, there are four steps to this process. There is a vote next week which will establish the ability to repeal Obamacare. We have to do a budget resolution so that you can do this - without getting into all the Washington speak - but the reconciliation bill itself, you can put that together, which will be the repeal bill. So you have the vote next week to set up the process. You have the vote sometime in the near future to actually repeal it. Then you have the replacement vote to replace the Affordable Care Act with what we think makes sense, which is expanding health savings accounts, empowering people across state lines, purchasing of insurance, the things that we think makes sense in a effort to improve and - our health care system.

I think that replacement bill should be done at the same time as the repeal bill. But they can't be the same bill because one requires 51 votes. Another one would require 60 votes to get through the Senate. But those should happen at the same time. And then you have the effective date of the repeal. So if we repealed - let's say we repeal the bill today. The effective date wouldn't be today. You have to give some runway to allow the market to adjust to this disaster that's been Obamacare, allow the market to switch from that and adjust to a market that's going to be better for patients and families. So that should happen definitely within this Congress. But just the date you pass repeal is not the date that it becomes effective. You have to give a ramp and a runway in order to allow that to happen.

SIMON: Is it important to you that whatever replaces the Affordable Care Act also covers the scores of millions of people who have gotten coverage and care under the Affordable Care Act?

JORDAN: You heard the speaker earlier this week, like the rest of America, where he said we're not going to pull the rug out from under people. I mean, we'll - of course we understand. They're - look, this gets to the whole social safety net system we have in this country. Americans are the most generous people on the planet. We want to help people, and people who are truly in need, we want to help. People who have a son or a daughter who have a difficult illness, you want to make sure that they're able to get coverage. So of course that's going to be part of the package that's put together as we move forward.

SIMON: Congressman Jim Jordan of Ohio, thanks so much for being with us.

JORDAN: You bet. Thank you, brother. I got to run. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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