Coons: Proposed Obamacare replacement ‘will lead to a less healthy America’

Sen. Chris Coons


DOVER — The three members of Delaware’s congressional delegation, all Democrats, continue to state their opposition to Republican plans to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

The latest measure, introduced in the Senate last week and known as the Graham-Cassidy bill after two of the main sponsors, would make serious changes to the country’s health care laws. While the bill has not received a full analysis from the Congressional Budget Office, one think tank estimates the end result would be many states receiving less money and potentially tens of millions of Americans losing health care coverage.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said Delaware would receive $1.27 billion less in federal funding by 2027 than it would under the current system, and the Center for American Progress estimated 81,000 Delawareans would lose coverage by 2027.

Under the bill, the Medicaid expansion undertaken by some states as part of the ACA would be replaced with block grants, and Medicaid funding would be capped.

A previous effort to repeal the ACA, which is often called Obamacare, failed in July by a 51-49 vote in the Senate.

On “Meet the Press Daily” Tuesday, Sen. Chris Coons said the measure plays “Russian roulette with the American health care system.”

“Graham-Cassidy will end Medicaid as we know it, eliminate all the consumer protections in the ACA by giving states the opportunity to repeal them. It will lead to a less healthy America,” he said.

Congress should be focusing on a bipartisan effort by Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., to craft a balanced health care proposal, Sen. Coons opined. However, just a few minutes after Sen. Coons made those remarks on “Meet the Press Daily,” Sen. Alexander announced he has “not found the necessary consensus among Republicans and Democrats to put a bill in the Senate leaders’ hands that could be enacted.”

A Senate Finance Committee hearing on the GOP proposal will be held Monday.

“What’s happening with the Graham-Cassidy bill takes the worst of Washington to a new level,” Sen. Tom Carper said in a statement Wednesday. “In a cynical effort to score a political win, most Senate Republicans have thrown weeks of bipartisan hearings, discussions and negotiations to the wayside so they can go all in on a partisan Hail Mary to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

“If this bill goes to the Senate floor next week, flouting regular order and any kind of substantive evaluation, it will be a dereliction of our duty as senators to protect and represent the people who sent us here.”

Citing the Center for American Progress and Center on Budget and Policy Priorities analyses, Rep. Lisa Blunt Rochester in a statement said Republicans are “pushing partisan plans that hurt hardworking families.”

All three members of the state’s congressional delegation have blasted the bill on Twitter as well, with Sens. Carper and Coons in particular attacking the measure.

Another health care bill has been in the news too: Sen. Bernie Sanders, a Vermont independent who campaigned for the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination, last week introduced legislation that would provide Medicare for all.

However, Delaware’s senators are — at least right now — rather cold to the idea.

Sen. Coons said Friday he has to consider the idea more but first is focused on protecting the ACA. In his interview on “Meet the Press Daily,” he said spending time debating Sen. Sanders’ bill “is another attempt at distracting us from the very high stakes right before us in a vote that will be taken next week.”

His counterpart, Sen. Carper, said Friday he wants to hear testimony on the Medicare bill in congressional hearings and supports the idea of universal health care being tested by states.

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