WASHINGTON — The Republican healthcare plan has the guaranteed support of one member of the New Jersey congressional delegation as the plan gets a vote on Thursday.

U.S. Rep. Tom MacArthur, R-N.J. 3rd District, played a key role in putting together the second version of the plan to replace the healthcare implemented by President Barack Obama. The congressman says his amendment protects pre-existing conditions, a sticking point among many lawmakers.

Many conservatives were won over by the amendment, which creates an $8 billion pool of money to help people with pre-existing medical conditions afford coverage. The change to the law would allow insurers to raise premium prices for people with such pre-existing conditions.

GOP congressmen Leonard Lance and Chris Simth were not won over by the amendment and will vote no. U.S. Rep. LoBiondo, a South Jersey Republican, tweeted Thursday morning that he would also vote against it.

"My concerns about Medicaid, preexisting conditions not resolved," his message said.

U.S. Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen has not spoken publicly about the bill but opposed the original version.

Meanwhile, all of the state's Democratic congressmen will vote against the bill.

Democrats defended Obama's law, one of his crowning domestic achievements, for expanding coverage to 20 million Americans and forcing insurers to offer more generous benefits. They said the GOP measure would toss millions off coverage while delivering tax cuts to the wealthy.

The bill would eliminate tax penalties Obama's law which has clamped down on people who don't buy coverage and it erases tax increases in the Affordable Care Act on higher-earning people and the health industry. It cuts the Medicaid program for low-income people and lets states impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients. It transforms Obama's subsidies for millions buying insurance — largely based on people's incomes and premium costs — into tax credits that rise with consumers' ages.

The measure would retain Obama's requirement that family policies cover grown children until age 26.

But states could get federal waivers freeing insurers from other Obama coverage requirements. With waivers, insurers could charge people with pre-existing illnesses far higher rates than healthy customers, boost prices for older consumers to whatever they wish and ignore the mandate that they cover specified services like pregnancy care.

 

The Associated Press contributed to this story.