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Rep. Donovan: GOP Health Bill Does Not Solve Problems Of Affordable Care Act

KELLY MCEVERS, HOST:

The Trump administration took a hit today from the president's own party. The House postponed a vote on the Republican replacement for the Affordable Care Act also known as Obamacare. Despite lengthy meetings at the White House, there just weren't enough Republicans who were willing to say yes to that bill today. Tonight, after the vote was called off, House Speaker Paul Ryan gathered members of his party to try to convince the holdouts.

Earlier today, I talked to New York Congressman Daniel Donovan about why he remained a no vote.

DANIEL DONOVAN: The president and Speaker Ryan, first of all, opened up this process for all of us to express our concerns about the proposal. I was at the White House on Tuesday. The president listened to everyone about their concerns, tried to address them. Speaker Ryan has given someone like myself, who has been here only two terms, the same voice as he's given to people who've been here for 35 years. But what happened to the district - and they have to look at this through different lenses than I do.

They represent 330 million Americans. I represent 740,000 people who live in Brooklyn and in Staten Island. And I have to vote the way I see is in their interests and their interests only. The bill is not solving the problems that my constituents are facing through the Affordable Care Act. And Kelly, I'm not a supporter of the Affordable Care Act. It is a flawed bill that has hurt a lot of families. We have families who are paying astronomical premiums, have high deductibles and still have big copays and don't go to the doctor any longer.

MCEVERS: Do you think this bill as it exists can be saved with tweaks and amendments? Or should lawmakers just start over?

DONOVAN: Maybe. I don't know what the concerns are of the other members of Congress. They've all had their chance to speak with the president and the speaker and the leadership in our party. So they have different concerns than I do. There's an amendment in this bill that's going to cost New York City taxpayers a lot more money than they're paying now. I just simply can't support having my constituents pay more taxes and not receive more benefits for their tax payments. So, you know, everybody has their own interests. Everybody's representing the 740,000 people...

MCEVERS: Right.

DONOVAN: ...That they're responsible for. This bill just doesn't help the people in my district that need help.

MCEVERS: Looking at the party more broadly, I mean, a party that has campaigned consistently for years against the Affordable Care Act, why do you think - you know, beyond just the question of individual interests in each district, why can't Republicans come to an agreement on this?

DONOVAN: Well, because all of us have a different set of priorities because of the areas where we represent. I happen to be unique. I'm a Republican that represents an urban area. In fact, in New York City, there's 13 members of Congress. There's 12 Democrats, and I'm the only Republican. And so, you know, all of us have to represent the people and look at this bill through the eyes of the people that we represent. But I have to give credit to the president and Paul Ryan. They could have let the Affordable Care Act collapse on its own. It can't be sustained because there's not enough money in there to fund all of the things that are in there.

And they could have sat back and said, look; and this is what President Obama did to our country. Instead, they took the bull by the horns. They tried to make a bill, put together a bill that they thought would help most Americans. And like I said, they look at it differently than I do. They have to look at the entire country.

MCEVERS: Right, right.

DONOVAN: And so I give them credit for trying to do that. And it's my hope that we go back to the drawing board if this doesn't pass. And I'm not sure it will or won't. But I hope that if it doesn't, that we go back to the drawing board and make it better.

MCEVERS: That's Republican Congressman Daniel Donovan, who represents part of New York City. Thank you very much.

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