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GOP Rep. Leonard Lance Outlines Opposition To Health Care Bill

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

I'm going to turn things over to Kelly because we have a congressional member on the line at the Capitol now, right, Kelly?

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

That's right. That would be Congressman Leonard Lance of New Jersey. He's a Republican who says he will vote no on this health care bill. Welcome to the program, Congressman.

LEONARD LANCE: Thank you for having me, Kelly.

MCEVERS: So tell us why you won't support this bill.

LANCE: I do not think that it lowers premiums, and I do not think that it covers enough people. And I read the CBO report, and I think that we have to move forward in a more bipartisan capacity. For example, I would like to see legislation passed that says we can purchase policy across state lines. That of course will require support from Democratic colleagues. And I challenge Democratic colleagues to come to the table and help repair the ACA.

MCEVERS: So it sounds like you're in that moderate camp that actually doesn't think the bill does enough. You went into a meeting with President Trump leaning toward no, and then you came out of that meeting a definite no. Why did the president fail to convince you?

LANCE: The meeting was very cordial, and the president asked all of us in attendance - and there were about 15 of us - what our thoughts were. And I was definitely leaning no before I entered the meeting, and I thought I had a responsibility to my constituents to indicate how I was going to vote because my constituents were asking me how I was going to vote.

But I want to point out that I thought that the president was trying to listen to members, and he in no way was in a situation where he didn't want to listen. And I commend him for listening, and he was doing more listening than he was speaking.

MCEVERS: We heard, you know, from the White House today that they're going to get enough votes eventually. Other people say maybe there aren't going to be enough votes. If this bill fails, what does that mean for meaningful health care reform in the future?

LANCE: I think that we can move forward in what is known as phase three. I would actually like it to be phase one, and that includes, for example, purchase of policies across state lines, tort reform, health savings accounts. And I don't think that we have to examine this only based upon the first phase of several phases.

And I think we should move forward to phase three. And this is a work in progress. I do think that the ACA needs major improvement. For example, in five states, there is only one insurer. In one third of the counties in this country, there's only one insurer. And so I think we do need to do a better job, Kelly.

MCEVERS: Right, but with all these different factions within the party, is there going to be a way to come together at this point?

LANCE: I view this as a challenge for the American nation and for all of us in Congress, and I do not view this in the lens of merely the Republican Party. I think the Democratic Party has to come to the table as well since it is after all the Democratic Party that enacted this legislation which was signed into law seven years ago today.

MCEVERS: That's right. President Trump has said he will hold people accountable for their no votes in the 2018 midterm elections. Does that concern you?

LANCE: I'm concerned about 2017, which is a year of governance, and not about 2018. That will take care of itself. And this is not a federal election year, and I think we should work together, Republicans and Democrats, those in the House, those in the Senate on this issue. I'm more concerned - much more concerned about moving the nation forward and repairing the ACA than I am about November of 2018.

MCEVERS: Leonard Lance is a Republican congressman from New Jersey. He joined us from Capitol Hill. Thanks a lot.

LANCE: Thank you, Kelly. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.