- The Washington Times
Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Sen. Joe Manchin said Tuesday he doesn’t think the Republicans new effort to replace Obamacare will pass.

“I just don’t see that pathway under the Graham-Cassidy bill. I see a pathway with the bill we have before us, with the Affordable Care Act, if we rework that bill. And if Democrats are willing to work with Republicans, it’s a give-and-take proposition,” Mr. Manchin, West Virginia Democrat, said on Fox News.

Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana are proposing a bill that would reallocate the Obamacare funds into block grants to states, allowing them to build their own health care systems. It would also repeal the mandates and medical-device tax in the current legislation.

Sen. Claire McCaskill said that the problems with the Republicans’ last attempt at a replacement plan for Obamacare still remain in this bill.

“This is no difference than what they’ve already tried to do. They’re not going to protect people with pre-existing conditions, they’re going to dramatically cut the Medicaid program, and that is exactly what got them in trouble before,” Ms. McCaskill, Missouri Democrat, said on MSNBC.

Sen. Jeanne Shaheen said it’s the same “mean-spirited effort” to deny others health insurance across the country while redistributing funds to red states.

“They’re certainly reshuffling the money so it’s going to red states. In New Hampshire, however, we would lose $410 million. In Ohio, they would lose upwards of $2 billion,” Ms. Shaheen, New Hampshire Democrat, said on CNN.

Sen. Ron Johnson, however, said the money would be reallocated to more evenly distribute the Obamacare funds since they disproportionately go to three states.

“It’s primarily taking all the Obamacare funding and turning those into block grants and sending those out to the states in a more equitable fashion. Right now, there are three states — California, New York and Massachusetts — they represent a little bit more than 20 percent of population yet they get about 36 percent of Obamacare funding. It’s simply unfair,” Mr. Johnson, Wisconsin Republican, said on CNN.

But Mr. Manchin said the current legislation does have it’s problems as well and there needs to be a change in how people are grouped under Obamacare in order to provide affordable rates.

“You can’t basically take the most sickly people in your state, or in your country, and say we’re going to book them with everybody else that’s healthier and you’re going to have a rate you can afford,” he said.

So far, Sen. Rand Paul, Kentucky Republican, has said he is unlikely to support the bill. Republicans have until Sept. 30 to pass the bill with a simple majority before their reconciliation measure runs out and they’ll need 60 votes to prevent a filibuster.

• Sally Persons can be reached at spersons@washingtontimes.com.

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