WASHINGTON — Rep. Andy Harris, a Baltimore County Republican and member of the conservative Freedom Caucus, said Thursday that last-minute changes to the Republican plan to replace Obamacare are not yet enough to win his support.
Harris, who ran his first campaign for Congress on a vow to repeal the Affordable Care Act, joined about three dozen Republicans who announced opposition to the legislation. Because of that opposition, GOP leaders pulled the measure from a scheduled vote Thursday -- dealing a blow to President Donald Trump.
Harris said in a statement that the measure "simply won't lower premiums as much as the American people need."
The House had been set to vote on the American Health Care Act on Thursday, but have struggled to find enough support among their own ranks. Republican House leaders have spent the last several days rewriting the bill in an effort to find more votes.
Democrats are united in their opposition to the bill.
"Despite recent changes made to the American Health Care Act legislation, I am unable to vote in favor of this bill," Harris said in a statement on Thursday. "This legislation simply won't lower premiums as much as the American people need, and lowering the cost of coverage is my primary goal as Congress and the administration work to repair the healthcare system."
The changes were aimed at trying to bring conservatives like Harris aboard. But the effort is a complicated balancing act. Shifting the bill too far right undermines support among centrist Republicans who are concerned by estimates that the measure will dump millions from their coverage.
When the legislation was introduced earlier this month, Harris was more positive, saying it would drive down costs while providing "access to high quality, affordable health insurance." Harris said the bill would maintain protections for patients with pre-existing conditions and young adults who want to stay on their parents' health insurance.
"We are working to make the transition from Obamacare to the AHCA as smooth as possible," Harris said at the time.
Harris's initial position was more conciliatory than others in the Freedom Caucus, who say the proposal is not a full repeal of Obamacare -- an outcome that has been at the center of GOP campaigns for years.