Southern Arizona Reps. Ron Barber and Raúl Grijalva say they will vote no on the effort this week to repeal the Affordable Care Act.
Both are Democrats. Grijalva voted for the bill. Barber was just elected to office last month, but he too says the benefits of the act outweigh its negative aspects.
“What I said during campaign and what I still believe to be true is that while the bill is far from perfect, there are a lot of things about it that I think we need to improve and change, there are many aspects of the affordable healthcare act that are very important to people in southern Arizona," Barber says.
The bill helps more than just those who are uninsured, he says.
”This is a bill and a law about personal responsibility that really makes sure that people who need insurance for their medical coverage get it and don’t put the burden on all of the rest of us who otherwise would have to pay if they’re not insured," Barber says.
Barber supports the bill's efforts to close the so-called Medicare donut hole for drug coverage and to allow people younger than 26 to stay on their parents’ insurance if they’re enrolled in school.
He also likes that it lowers women’s insurance rates and eliminates exclusions for pre-existing conditions and lifetime caps for coverage.
Now, he says, he knows which way he’ll vote.
“To repeal this law would mean that all of those benefits that I just shared with you would be lost to the American people," Barber says. "That is wrong and I will not vote to do that."
Grijalva's biggest concern is what comes after the vote, if the effort to repeal the law is successful.
“The problem with the mantra of repeal is there’s no replace," Grijalva says.
Grijalva, a leader of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, says he and his colleagues want to hear specifics from Republicans on how to solve some of the problems the Affordable Care Act was meant to solve.
“They’ve really gotten away for two years just trashing health care reform without having had the responsibility to produce an alternative," he says.
Grijalva says he thinks Republicans won’t be able to propose other solutions. All he’s heard, he says, is that vouchers would allow people to select health care, which he says provides no mechanism for cost control.
Grijalva didn’t support the individual mandate when it was first proposed, and he lobbied for a single-payer government system. Even though that never became part of the bill, he voted for the Affordable Care Act.
He says this week's attempt to repeal the bill is “going to be a different fight. The last time we were with this cloud of 'is it going to be unconstitutional?' And then we also had the political issue with the Tea Party and how all of us in this previous election cycle got beat up because of the healthcare reform bill. I’m really happy I voted for it.”
Grijalva says he still doesn’t think the law is perfect, but the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that it’s constitutional gives Democrats backing to continue supporting the bill.
He’s confident the repeal will pass in the GOP-controlled U.S. House, but not the Democrat-controlled U. S. Senate.
Members of the U.S. House of Representatives are scheduled to begin talking about a health care repeal vote Tuesday, with an actual vote expected later in the week.