Both parties in Washington D.C. know Obamacare is flawed and getting worse, but no Democrats and two Republicans voted Tuesday against opening debate to change things.
That meant it took Vice President Mike Pence to break a 50-50 tie just to open up debate on reforming the country’s controversial health care law, the Affordable Care Act.
Goldwater Institute Director of Health Policy Naomi Lopez Bauman said there needs to be radical reforms to focus on access and affordability.
“Congress, lawmakers, really need to clean up this mess,” a mess Bauman said federal lawmakers created. “It’s the people in the states that are suffering as a result of these very misguided policies.”
Opponents of reform, such as U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, said they hope Republican efforts fail.
“You cannot take helpless people, some who are working hard in jobs, two and three jobs at a time, that have no health-care benefits and say to them, ‘Sorry, our system won’t take care of you’,” Durbin said.
Bauman said people already are losing out because of high prices and lack of insurance and care options. She said two main reforms should be a priority.
“Return the regulation of insurance back to the states where it was before the Affordable Care Act and where it rightfully belongs,” Bauman said. “And what that would do is that would make it legal to sell insurance policies that better meets individuals’ needs and preferences.”
Bauman also said Medicaid should be a real safety net, not expanded to assist able-bodied people.
“What has happened under the Affordable Care Act,” Bauman said, “is that the federal government is basically providing a lot more money to states to provide benefits and coverage under the Medicaid program for able-bodied adults above the poverty level.”
That means tax dollars to provide services to the most vulnerable will get squeezed out even more, Bauman said, adding that the promises of many individuals keeping insurance, doctors and lower premiums fell apart, as she’s predicted for several years.
Even New York Democratic Sen. Chuck Schumer acknowledged on the Senate floor the current law is flawed and needs to be fixed.
Despite revelations he’d been diagnosed with brain cancer, Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain appeared on the floor and said ACA needs to be changed. He voted to allow debate but said he’s not promising to vote in favor of what ultimately comes out. He wants there to be bipartisan efforts to change the bill.
Durbin and others blasted leading Republicans for allowing for debate on reforms without unveiling what reforms were going to be on the table.
“The bottom line is that lawmakers in Washington created this mess,” Bauman said. “They knew from the beginning that the promises from the Affordable Care Act were not going to be delivered. We’ve seen, year after year, more failures.”
Any reform measures will now have to go through a process known as conference with the House before advancing to President Donald Trump’s desk.