Senate Republicans Not Giving Up Hope On Obamacare Repeal And Replace Bill

Kerry Picket Political Reporter
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WASHINGTON—As President Donald Trump prepares to sign an executive order to roll back restrictions on insurance companies from Obamacare, Republican senators who played a role in the last failed push to repeal the Affordable Care Act say their bill is not dead. GOP leaders hope to persuade others in the party, like Ohio Gov. John Kasich, to vote on their side.

Wisconsin Republican Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI) told Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday that the repeal and replace health care bill he co-authored with South Carolina Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Louisiana Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) was still “alive and well.”

Johnson told Tapper that Republicans “ran out of time.”

“I wouldn’t say it collapsed. It’s still alive and well, but we need more time,” the Wisconsin senator continued.

Senators Graham and Cassidy agree with Johnson and have not given up on their mission to repeal and replace Obamacare. Graham recalled Kasich’s previous support of block grants when the Ohio Republican was a member of Congress, and also recalled Democrats’ support for block grants when it came to welfare spending.

“Democrats supported block grants for welfare. They supported per capita caps on Medicaid spending. You’ve got the control your growth. I knew John (Kasich) when he was budget chairman, he talked about entitlement reform,” Graham told The Daily Caller last Thursday.

He continued, “So I think we’re going to make a very persuasive case that Medicaid has to be more sustainable than it is today. The more flexible the program, the better the dollars are able to achieve outcomes. And that Medicaid program is going to raise the rates like every other program, and we will win the day on Medicaid reforms, but again, you have an example in the past where somebody embraced what we were doing.”

Kasich came out against  the repeal bill that would issue block grants to the states to handle their own health care spending, but he gave previous support to such a concept for states when he was House Budget Committee Chairman in 1995.

As Chairman of the House Budget Committee, Kasich testified at a House hearing on Medicare and Medicaid reform. “What we want to do with Medicaid is we really want to get the program to the states and let the governors figure out how to deal with the populations the way they think we should deal with them. And we are in it currently,” Kasich stated.

The Ohio Republican discussed how then Republican Rep. Tom Bliley was “engaged in conversations with the majority of governors who happen to be Republican” and want to “provide the resources for governors to be able to serve their populations but be able to serve their populations the way that they see fit.” He also noted governors shouldn’t have to come to Washington for waivers to run the Medicaid program, but should receive block grants from the federal government instead.

Sen. Cassidy commented on Kasich’s previous support for block grants last Wednesday, saying, “I would argue that our block grant (proposal) was better than the one in 1995.”

He went on to say, “That one did not adapt to, as I recall, and as I have been told, did not account for population shifts or for differences in cost of living or disease burden, but that said, part of it was that we did not have enough time to socialize our ideas.”

Cassidy added, “So I have every confidence that if this comes back up again, which I think it will– that as folks become more familiar with it, folks like John Kasich will say it’s a good idea. I thought it was good in ‘95 and I now understand what it really is and I think it’s a good idea now.”

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