3 Senators Talk Next Steps on Health Care
By Rachel del Guidice, Reporter for The Daily Signal.
As two Senate lawmakers float yet another plan to fix problems with Obamacare, another wants to revisit legislation that he says would more substantially repeal the health care law.
“Actually, we could have more coverage under Graham-Cassidy than under the status quo,” Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., said Wednesday at an event hosted by online media company Axios, referring to the bill he co-authored with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C. “For example, if you actually think about what we proposed, we would allow states to do so-called ‘automatic enrollment.’ You’re in, unless you’re out.”
Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va., who was also at the event, said the bipartisan plan that Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., reached Tuesday represents good progress.
“We need to show the American public we can do something bipartisan on health care,” Kaine said. “I have been making the argument that even something modest that is bipartisan in this very controversial area will be a really good sign from Congress to the American people.”
Alexander, the third and final speaker at the Axios event, said President Donald Trump was supportive of the plan.
“He called me to say that, No. 1 … to be encouraging about the bipartisan agreement that Sen. Murray and I announced yesterday,” Alexander said of Trump. “No. 2, he intends to review it carefully to see if he wants to add anything to it. No. 3, he is still for block grants, sometime later, but he is going to focus on tax reform this year.”
Trump, however, later signaled a lack of support for the plan.
I am supportive of Lamar as a person & also of the process, but I can never support bailing out ins co’s who have made a fortune w/ O’Care.
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) October 18, 2017
The Graham-Cassidy bill, which did not get a vote when it appeared it would not pass the Senate, would give states the freedom to waive Obamacare regulations, protect patients with pre-existing conditions, and provide block grants to states by “equalizing the treatment between Medicaid expansion and non-expansion states through an equitable block-grant distribution,” as The Daily Signal previously reported.
Cassidy, who was a physician before running for office, said he has yet to thoroughly review the Alexander-Murray bill, but said he hopes his own legislation will be revived.
“Under Graham-Cassidy, there will be billions—with a ‘b’—more in Virginia to care for working families,” Cassidy said, adding:
Similarly, in Missouri, would get billions more under Graham-Cassidy.
People have said this is a partisan bill. I have just listed two states represented by Democratic senators, but I could also list Maine, Florida, Wisconsin, Indiana, and others that would do far better under Graham-Cassidy than under the status quo, and they are represented by Democratic senators.
Regarding the Alexander-Murray plan, a spokesman for House Speaker Paul Ryan said Wednesday that the Wisconsin Republican “does not see anything that changes his view that the Senate should keep its focus on repeal and replace of Obamacare.”
Rep. Mark Walker, R-N.C., chairman of the House Republican Study Committee, said the Alexander-Murray plan was “unacceptable.”
— RSC (@RepublicanStudy) October 17, 2017
Regardless of how the bill he co-authored with Murray plays out, Alexander said, he’s convinced Trump is dedicated to putting states, rather than federal bureaucrats, in control of health care.
“I think [Trump’s] big goals are the same as my big goals, which is to move more decisions about the kinds of policies that are for Americans to buy health insurance out of Washington and back to the states, so people have more choices and lower prices,” the Tennessee Republican said.
Ed Haislmaier, a senior research fellow at The Heritage Foundation’s Center for Health Policy Studies, said the plan does not do enough to address Obamacare’s shortcomings.
“What is instead needed to stabilize the unsubsidized market is the removal of Obamacare’s cost-increasing insurance mandates and misguided regulations,” Haislmaier said in a statement provided to The Daily Signal. “To fix that Obamacare-caused damage and lower the cost of insurance, Congress will need to make other policy reforms.”
*To read this piece on The Daily Signal website, click here.