House Republicans now have a second chance of passing their Obamacare replacement thanks to Congressman Tom MacArthur.
MacArthur recently introduced an amendment to the American Health Care Act, the Obamacare replacement bill that failed last month after facing opposition from conservatives. Today, the House Freedom Caucus, the conservative group that previously opposed the American Health Care Act, said they will support the bill if it includes the MacArthur amendment.
So who exactly is Tom MacArthur, the man who is now at the center of the Obamacare replacement battle, and what’s in his amendment? Here’s what you need to know.
1. He Represents New Jersey & Was Elected in 2014
Tom MacArthur was elected in 2014 to represent New Jersey’s 3rd Congressional district.
MacArthur has a background in business, working in the insurance industry before running for Congress. He used some of his personal wealth in his campaign, personally contributing about $5 million, according to NJ.com. He outspent his Democratic opponent, Aimee Belgard, by three to one.
In the 2016 election, MacArthur’s Democratic opponent was Frederick John Lavergne, whom he beat with 60 percent of the vote.
MacArthur will be up for re-election again in 2018.
2. He Endorsed Donald Trump During the 2016 Election
Tom MacArthur was not one of the Congressional Republicans who did not support Donald Trump for president.
Rather, MacArthur provided his endorsement of Trump, and he was the only New Jersey Congressman to attend the Republican National Convention.
“We have to win as a party,” MacArthur told NJ.com at the time. “We need to win up and down the ticket. My view is this is where I should be to support that.”
MacArthur was facing his own re-election that year, and Democrats ran a number of ads against him connecting him with Donald Trump and telling voters that MacArthur supports Trump’s extreme rhetoric.
In response, MacArthur said that he did not agree with everything that Trump has said but that he was better than Hillary Clinton.
“We have a choice in November,” he told NJ.com. “It’s either going to be Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton. We need to elect Donald Trump.”
3. In January, He Voted Against Repealing Obamacare
In January, Tom MacArthur was the only Congressional Republican to vote against a budget resolution designed to set in motion a repeal of the Affordable Care Act.
This was surprising, but MacArthur did not vote against it because he supports Obamacare; he wanted to repeal the law, too, but at the time, he said that Republicans were moving too fast in the process.
“I think we’re going too fast,” MacArthur said, according to NJ.com. “These are real people’s lives.”
MacArthur went on to say that he didn’t want to put a repeal in place until Republicans knew for sure what the replacement would look like. The vote ended up passing, and MacArthur was the only Republican to oppose it.
“Both parties have missed opportunities to fix our health care system — one of the greatest priorities of our time — and now we’re faced with an Obamacare system that is literally falling apart,” MacArthur said in a statement after the vote. “Skyrocketing premiums, disappearing insurance plans and out-of-control deductibles are failing the American people. I lost today, but I will keep fighting to carefully, rather than quickly, replace Obamacare, and make sure that all Americans can buy the health insurance they need and that nobody has the rug pulled out from under them.”
4. His Amendment Would Allow States to Receive Waivers From Certain Federal Standards
Under the MacArthur Amendment, states could opt out of large parts of the American Health Care Act.
For instance, the amendment says that states can opt out of the “essential health benefits” provision, which sets in place a list of things that must be included in all health care plans. States under this plan could set their own standards, so long as they show that doing so would lower costs.
States could also waive certain aspects of community-rating rules, which concern the requirement that insurance companies charge customers the same price. Under the amendment, health care provides still would not be able to discriminate based on gender, age, or preexisting conditions. However, they are allowed to waive the pre-existing condition requirement if the state has a high risk pool.
This amendment addresses some of the complaints of Congressional Republicans, who said that the original American Health Care Act was just “Obamacare lite” and who wanted the states to have more power.
The House Freedom Caucus in particular said they will support the American Health Care Act as long as it has the MacArthur amendment.
“The MacArthur amendment will grant states the ability to repeal cost driving aspects of Obamacare left in place under the original AHCA,” the House Freedom Caucus said in a statement. “While the revised version still does not fully repeal Obamacare, we are prepared to support it to keep our promise to the American people to lower healthcare costs. We look forward to working with our Senate colleagues to improve the bill. Our work will continue until we fully repeal Obamacare.”
5. He is Married & Has Two Children
Tom is married and has two children.
His wife is Debbie MacArthur, his college sweetheart whom he married over three decades ago, according to his official website.
He has a son and a daughter: David and Isabella. Tom and Debbie’s third child, Gracie, was born with special needs and died at the age of 11 in 1996.
Tom MacArthur is the richest Congressman from New Jersey, as he is estimated to be worth about $30 million, according to NJ.com. He is far from the richest member of Congress, though; that title goes to Darrell Issa, who is worth $768 million, according to Politico.