Greg Gianforte, the Republican candidate to represent Montana’s at-large congressional district in the House of Representatives, has been charged with misdemeanor assault after allegedly body slamming a reporter. The incident took place after The Guardian’s Ben Jacobs tried to get Gianforte’s reaction to the Congressional Budget Office’s recent scoring of the American Health Care Act. So given that Gianforte was so averse to answering Jacobs’ questions about the bill, where exactly does he stand on the American Health Care Act?
Well, his position on the bill has been a bit muddled. Gianforte is certainly opposed to the Affordable Care Act and wants to see it replaced, but he was somewhat wary to support the American Health Care Act, with a spokesperson for Gianforte telling The New York Times, “Greg needs to know all the facts, because it’s important to know exactly what’s in the bill before he votes on it.”
Gianforte also told Montana Public Radio that he did not like the fact that the House of Representatives was voting on the bill before it received a score from the Congressional Budget Office.
“This is the problem with Obamacare,” Gianforte told Montana Public Radio. “You know, we were promised a lot of things, and we got into this sticky mess in large part because people back in Congress said, well, we’ve got to pass it to figure out what’s in it. I think we ought to be a little more disciplined in understanding the implications of the bills we’re passing.”
He also told Montana Public Radio that any replacement to Obamacare must “get premiums down, protect people with pre-existing conditions, and protect rural access for Montanans.”
A spokesperson for Gianforte told The Washington Times that Gianforte would not have voted for the American Health Care Act because he did not have assurances that it would drive down premiums and protect those with pre-existing conditions.
“Greg would not have supported the bill in its current form because he did not have those assurances,” the Gianforte spokesperson said. “Rob Quist wants to double down on Obamacare with a complete government takeover of our health care system, but he won’t tell Montanans how it’s going to work or how we will pay for it. The results would be rationed care, reduced access and higher premiums.”
However, on May 5th, The New York Times reported that Gianforte could be heard on a recent call saying that he is happy the bill passed.
“The votes in the House are going to determine whether we get tax reform done, sounds like we just passed a health care thing, which I’m thankful for, sounds like we’re starting to repeal and replace,” Gianforte said, according to The New York Times.
A spokesperson for Gianforte tried to clarify this by telling The Washington Times that Gianforte is happy that Congress got the process started, even though he personally would not have voted for the bill.
In one of Greg Gianforte’s campaign ads, he says that he supports a bill that protects people with pre-existing conditions, brings premiums down, and preserves rural access. However, the commercial makes no mention of the American Health Care Act at all.
Gianforte had said that he would have more to say about the American Health Care Act once the Congressional Budget Office released their assessment of it. That’s why Ben Jacobs was interested in speaking with Gianforte on Wednesday, as on Wednesday afternoon, the Congressional Budget Office concluded that the bill would lead to 23 million new uninsured people by 2026. Gianforte did not answer Ben Jacobs’ questions.
Greg Gianforte’s Democratic opponent, Rob Quist, has hammered him on the issue of health care, especially following The New York Times’ reported that Gianforte said he was “thankful” the American Health Care Act passed.
“It seems like everyone in Montana knows that the D.C. healthcare bill would be a disaster for our state, except for Greg Gianforte who said he was ‘thankful’ for it,” Quist said in a statement. “This un-American bill would raise premiums on Montanans, end coverage for at least 70,000 people and eliminate protections for preexisting conditions – all to pay for huge tax breaks for multi-millionaires like Gianforte himself.”
Before this body slamming incident, the conventional wisdom among political pundits was that if Greg Gianforte struggled to win on Thursday, it would largely be because of the American Health Care Act, which is extraordinarily unpopular.