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Rep. Ted Yoho Explains Why He's Voting Against GOP Health Care Bill


One member of the conservative House Freedom Caucus who intends to vote no on the Republican health care bill is Congressman Ted Yoho of Florida. Congressman, welcome to the show.

TED YOHO: Thanks for having me on.

MCEVERS: President Trump has said he supports this health care bill 100 percent, and he, as we just heard, is pressuring you and your colleagues to support it. Are you worried about going against the president on this?

YOHO: No, not at all. You know, he also said that we're going to repeal 100 percent the Affordable Care Act and replace it. And we're in the process of doing that, but we're not there yet. And we're getting closer, and I look forward to the spirited discussions I had. But I want to do - I do want to give credit to our leadership for the tremendous amount of work that they've done. We're getting close.

MCEVERS: OK, so it sounds like going against the president is a way to negotiate for you.

YOHO: Yeah, kind of, you know? And you know, I'd love to be there for them, but there's a couple things that I'm not ready to give in on. And (laughter) I don't want this to sound wrong. President Trump can't vote for me. The people that sent me up here sent me up here to repeal and replace 100 percent the Affordable Care Act.

And that's something that is - when it gets down to the constitutional principles, I do not believe that the federal government role is to provide health care for the individual. I don't look for anybody to pay for health care for me and my family. That's my responsibility. Outside of somebody that's, you know, indigent, can't afford it - they're disabled, people in high poverty - government does have a role. But outside of that, I'm totally against that.

MCEVERS: OK, so if you don't get what you want, you are OK with the possibility that this does not pass the House. And how real a possibility do you think that is?

YOHO: I don't think that's - I don't think that would happen. I think it would come back for negotiations. And you know, I kind of - I had a friend put it this way. He says it's kind of like the doctor comes to you and says you have a malignant tumor. And the doctor says, we're going to take out 90 percent of it and hope you have a nice day. You know, the tumor will come back.

And you know, with the Affordable Care Act, if you don't get rid of it all, there's remnants of that that will come back, and it'll say that the federal government has a role in your health care. And I'm just 180 degrees different on that.

MCEVERS: So I mean forgive me for asking, but I mean can you imagine a situation where the president is trying to pressure you, thinking about, you know, a time when you're up for reelection, and you know, he targets you in a tweet. You're - that's OK with you. You're OK with that.

YOHO: Yeah, I'm perfectly fine with that. You know, I ran against the sitting speaker of the House in 114th Congress, and people asked me, are you afraid of any retribution? And I said, no, I'm a Christian, and I fear no man. And I kind of feel the same way here. I'm very strong in my conviction. The people that sent me up here have the faith in me to stand up for that. But like I said, we're closer today than we were a week ago.

MCEVERS: So completely repeal Obamacare and any kind of replacement as far as you're concerned.

YOHO: Sure. You know, if you go back to 2009, 85 percent of the Americans had health care on their own or through their employers. Fifteen percent didn't. If government wanted to help, they would've helped the 15 percent to go from no insurance to, in some form of insurance plan, leave 85 percent of the population alone. And I think it was a misstep back then.

But if you hear President Obama before he was elected, he said his goal was to go to a single-payer system, but he knew that the American people wouldn't buy it. And so you get Obamacare that got rammed through the Democratic-controlled House and Senate. And we get what we have today. And this is a warning I guess for everybody in the country and legislatures. When you have bad legislation that comes into play lopsided from one party - and I fear for our side, too - that this is something that the country has to live with. And we've lived with this debacle for the last - what? - seven, eight years.

MCEVERS: How soon do you think Freedom Caucus lawmakers can reach some kind of compromise with the president...

YOHO: Oh, that's going on...

MCEVERS: ...And the speaker?

YOHO: ...Constantly, and that's going to happen over the next two to three days. I think you'll have a bill that we can vote on.

MCEVERS: In a few days.

YOHO: In a few days - we're not there yet, and we're going to stand strong.

MCEVERS: That's Congressman Ted Yoho of Florida. Thanks so much for your time.

YOHO: Yes ma'am. Have a great day. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.