Iowa’s congressional delegation split along party lines as the U.S. House passed a health care reform measure late Saturday night. Congressmen Bruce Braley of Waterloo, Dave Loebsack of Mount Vernon and Leonard Boswell of Des Moines — all Democrats — voted for the plan. Republican Congressmen Tom Latham of Ames and Steve King of Kiron voted against it.
Braley was among the members of congress involved in some of the final dust-ups during House debate. Republicans yelled “point of order” repeatedly and Democrats clapped as Braley tried to speak over the din.
“Who will speak for the patients?” Braley asked as the House erupted. At issue was a Republican proposal to limit the amount patients may receive in medical malpractice lawsuits. Democrats cheered as Braley lambasted the proposal.
Earlier on Saturday afternoon, Braley delivered a shorter speech on the House floor.
“I rise today on the third anniversary of my election to congress to urge my colleagues to speak truth to fear and vote for the Affordable Choices for America Health Care Act,” Braley said. “We were elected…to come and change the direction of this country. That’s exactly what this bill does.”
Braley is a member of the House Energy and Commerce Committee which passed a health care reform plan this summer and many components of that plan made it into the final version.
“This bill will do for America what we should have done 100 years ago: provide health care for all Americans as a matter of right, not as a matter of privilege,” Braley said.
During a telephone interview with Radio Iowa on Saturday, Congressman Loebsack said he voted for the bill for a number of reasons.
“I think this bill does a lot of great things for Iowans and certainly for the second district of Iowa and not the least of which, of course, it will provide a permanent fix for Medicare reimbursement rates,” Loebsack said. “You know that’s been a problem for Iowa and that is part of the bill.”
Congressman Latham said the bill isn’t the answer to the problems in the health care system.
“It’s a government take-over of our health care. It’s going to cost $1.2 trillion. It will dramatically increase premiums for people when they purchase,” Latham said during a telephone interview with Radio Iowa. “In 2016, a minimum policy will cost $15,000 for a family.”
Congressman King recorded a video message which was played Saturday night at an Iowa Republican Party fundraiser in Des Moines while King was in Washington for the House vote.
“The damage this bill is irreversible,” King said, “and I’m doing all I can to kill it.”
Iowa’s other congressman, Leonard Boswell, issued a written statement late Saturday after his “yes” vote on the bill, saying it was the “most transformative piece of legislation” he’s seen in his 13 years in congress.