The Affordable Health Care Act got a bit closer to repeal last week as the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that could drastically affect millions across the country and across Western North Carolina.

Obamacare is one step closer to repeal as the U.S. House of Representatives today passed legislation that would provide a drastic overhaul of health insurance for millions in America and hundreds of thousands in Western North Carolina.

“From the earliest stages of the discussion, I’ve stated that my goals were to, one, bring down premiums for Americans, and two, protect those with pre-existing conditions,” said Republican Congressman Mark Meadows, R-Asheville, in an email earlier today. “After weeks of negotiations, conversations, and substantive changes to the bill, I believe we reached the point where both of these criteria will be sufficiently met. I believe the revised AHCA will substantially reduce healthcare premiums and provide a strong net of protection for the most vulnerable Americans.”

Called the American Health Care Act, the bill was narrowly approved 217-213 with nary a ‘yea’ from Democrats; 20 Republicans joined them in voting no.

For most of his first 100 days in office, President Donald Trump has pushed for the undoing of Obamacare, but often found himself stymied.

Meadows, who chairs the influential House Freedom Caucus, helped derail a previous effort pushed by Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, R-Wis., weeks ago.

Since then, Meadows said he was pushing for two issues – high-risk pools for pre-existing conditions, and state waivers for essential medical services.

Meadows got what he wanted, but the bill is not yet law – the Senate is seen as the more uncertain chamber in this incarnation of “repeal and replace,” and it’s possible Senators instead draft their own legislation.

Look for more on this story in next week’s Smoky Mountain News, on stands Wednesday, May 10.

After a busy week of rallies around the country, the state and the county, progressives gathered at the Historic Haywood Courthouse April 23 to speak out on healthcare and welcome Asheville Republican Congressman Mark Meadows’ first Democratic challenger. 

• Democrats welcome progressives in symbiotic alliance
• Harnessing the progressive tide
• WNC groups claim Meadows isn’t listening
• A short break with Coffay

Born in Florida but raised in tiny Blue Ridge, Georgia — just a few miles outside of Murphy and not far from where Tennessee borders Georgia and North Carolina — Matt Coffay, 30, has spent a little over a decade in Western North Carolina, after moving to Asheville to attain a degree in philosophy. 

Members of several progressive groups concerned over the moral and monetary implications of Affordable Care Act repeal in rural Western North Carolina say that although their congressman isn’t listening to them now, maybe he’ll hear them in 2018.

A powerful Republican Congressman who also serves as the leader of his party’s most conservative faction now has his first challenger for reelection in 2018.

As first reported in the Smoky Mountain News April 12, Asheville Democrat Matt Coffay will challenge Rep. Mark Meadows, R-Asheville, for North Carolina’s 11th congressional district seat.

Meadows, chairman of the powerful House Freedom Caucus that singlehandedly derailed President Donald Trump’s Obamacare replacement plan back in March, was first elected in 2012 by a 57-43 percent margin.

Since then, he’s faced increasingly token opposition and widened his margin to 63 percent in 2014 and 64 percent in 2016.

Meadows spent $5.75 per vote in 2012 on donations of $1.1 million, but spent just $332,000 to defeat Rick Bryson, D-Bryson City, in 2016.

Coffay – who’s website just went live – is expected to formally announce his candidacy at a 3 p.m. rally today that is sponsored by a coalition of left-leaning groups from throughout the 11th district, including Progressive Nation WNC.

Not much is yet publicly known about Coffay, as his website and Facebook pages don’t yet contain much information about his background, or his positions.

His personal Facebook page says he has a degree in Philosophy from The University of North Carolina-Asheville, and lists his workplace as The National Young Farmers Coalition. His website says that he’s running because “it's time for change, and Western NC needs new leadership.”

He goes on to promise “the biggest grassroots campaign that NC-11 has ever seen.”

One of the main challenges Coffay’s grassroots campaign will face is an increasingly popular opponent who has become the face of the fiscal conservative movement.

Meadows regularly appears in the national media and is an important figure in the House of Representatives, where he holds sway over a conservative bloc of 30 to 40 other representatives from across the country.

Check back for more information on this developing story in our next issue, due on stands April 26.

A “Mark Meadows Town Hall” meeting on health care in Waynesville April 23 doesn’t promise U.S. Rep. Mark Meadows will be there, but it does promise that an unnamed Democratic challenger will be. But who is it?

North Carolina Congressman Mark Meadows, R-Asheville, is known as a staunch fiscal conservative, opposing expansive federal fiscal policy set forth by his Democratic colleagues — except when it comes to his own district.

“More for less” — that’s the message Western North Carolina Congressman Mark Meadows, R-Asheville, is trying to send to Congress and President Donald Trump about the Affordable Care Act.

Renewed concerns about the local impact of President Donald Trump’s proposed budget cuts and his attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act could affect some of Haywood County’s neediest — and smallest — residents.

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