Reps. Denham and Knight, in their own words…

A California Congressmember’s position on the American Health Care Act should be a no-brainer, once it is clear that millions more people would lose health coverage as a result. Unfortunately, some Congressmembers voted for the bill in various committee, including from California: Rep. Mimi Walters, Rep. Devon Nunes, Rep. Duncan Hunter, and Rep. Tom McClintock. Other members, including Rep. Kevin McCarthy in his role as the House Republican Leader, expressed their support.

However, because a vote never happened, a few Congressmembers never revealed what their vote was going to be–and more than half this small list hail from California. While we wait for wait Rep. Valadao or Rep. Cook to make a statement, it was useful for Reps. Knight and Denham to hold town hall meetings. While neither made a clear statement that they would oppose a version of the legislation in the future, they did raise their own concerns and problems with the bill–important to track as the effort to rollback coverage gets renewed.

Rep. Jeff Denham stated, three weeks after the fact, that “I’ve expressed to leadership that I’m a NO on the health care bill until it is responsive to my community.”

Obviously, the question is what does “responsive to my community” mean. Given the 300,000 who rely on Medi-Cal in his district, it would be troubling if he was willing to vote for the massive Medicaid cuts. Yet he mostly talked about important but smaller issues, like residencies at a UC-Merced medical school. Another relevant quote, starting at 5:30 from this Facebook Live video clip:

“I want to expand access and affordability. I want to make sure that if you now gotten health insurance for the first time because we expanded Medi-Cal then you are able to keep that….

But I want to make sure that if you have Medi-Cal now, that you are actually able to see a doctor…

“One of the things that has changed in our state and our community, that I think is a benefit of the Affordable Care Act, is our health centers… that see a lot of our Medi-Cal population, those health centers have now doubled in the funding in the last seven years. And so those health centers have been a big benefit in our community. But we still are not able to see all the doctors that we would like to… Accessibility and affordability.”

Here’s media coverage of his town hall:

Rep. Steve Knight was questioned so much about health care that one reporter in attendance called it the theme of the night. He refused to answer yes or no about his vote on AHCA, but gave some indications of his concerns:

“We have talking about the AHCA and possible repeal and replace. One of the issue was pre-existing conditions. That was taken off the table: pre-existing conditions will stay in place just like it is in the Affordable Care Act…. I will keep pre-existing conditions.”

To a more direct question on how he would have voted on the AHCA:

“50-64 years olds was a stumbling block for all of us. All of us in California. 50-64 year olds their rise in premiums in California was a big stumbling block. That being said, the bill was changing every second, every minute, so I am not going to go into a hypothetical..”

One exchange started asking if he would vote for a budget that doesn’t include ACA’s cost-sharing subsidies?

“I am not going to get into a hypothetical over a question that might happen. I don’t know about the subsidies you are talking about, sir… The subsidies through the exchange, is that what you are talking about?”

The questioner followed up, referring to a Republican friend of his: “If he didn’t have those subsidies, he couldn’t afford health insurance and he would die.”

“The health care system is still being looked at. I can say that honestly, there are still people working on it, whether it’s AHCA or something that might come out, that might be part, that might be a complete overhaul. Until we see that.. This last vote on AHCA, I was looking at that until the minute they pulled it. Until I know what we are talking about, I am not going to say yes or no”

Here’s the coverage of that event:

Los Angeles Times:

Ventura County Star:

Santa Clarita Valley Signal: