Frelinghuysen Breaks With Party To Oppose Republican Health Plan

By on March 24, 2017
Rodney Frelinghuysen

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen, speaking to a Verona High School class in March.

Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (R-NJ11th), the legislator who represents Verona in Congress, broke ranks with his party, issuing a statement that indicates he will not support the Republican plan to replace Obamacare, calling the party plan “unacceptable”.

Frelinghuysen is the chairman of the powerful House Appropriations Committee and his opposition to the Republican plan all but dooms it in the vote that is now scheduled to take place on Friday afternoon. Republicans had wanted to hold the vote yesterday, which was the anniversary of the enactment of the Affordable Care Act, but they could not muster the votes to guarantee its passage.

“Seven years after enactment of Obamacare, I wanted to support legislation that made positive changes to rescue healthcare in America,” Frelinghuysen said in his statement.

“Unfortunately, the legislation before the House today is currently unacceptable as it would place significant new costs and barriers to care on my constituents in New Jersey. In addition to the loss of Medicaid coverage for so many people in my Medicaid-dependent state, the denial of essential health benefits in the individual market raise serious coverage and cost issues.

“I remain hopeful that the American Health Care Act will be further modified. We need to get this right for all Americans.”

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NJ11th For Change, a grassroots group that has been leading weekly gatherings at Frelinghuysen’s Morristown office to raise awareness of constituent views on a wide range of issues, including healthcare, has estimated that 23,700 residents of the 11th congressional district would lose insurance by 2020 under the Republican plan, a 74% increase in the number of uninsured in the district.  “The members of NJ11th for Change welcomed Rep. Frelinghuysen’s morning statement that he is now opposed to the AHCA,” a spokesman for NJ11th said via email. “For months, our group has organized a sustained effort with thousands of our Members — calling, visiting, mailing, faxing, and showing up – all urging him to vote against taking health care away from more than 30,000 fellow constituents. The Congressman’s statement shows that the tireless voices of our grassroots organization together with countless citizens across the district were heard loud and clear.”

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Frelinghuysen had indicated in his most recent virtual town hall that he was working with other New Jersey Republicans to make changes to the plan advanced by House Speaker Paul Ryan. But he also said, in response to a question about why he did not side with a plan advanced by Verona’s former congressman, Rep. Bill Pascrell (D-NJ10th), that he would always support the the chair “regardless of the issue”.  Verona has been part of the 11th congressional district since a gerrymandering in 2012.

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