As support for health care overhaul crumbled Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran joined President Donald Trump and other Republicans in an unsuccessful push to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a replacement, despite protests from constituents.
Moran, a critic of the GOP’s latest effort to replace the health care law, said he would support repealing Obamacare before working on a replacement. At the same time, protesters at Sen. Pat Roberts’ office in Topeka voiced concern over Republican efforts to undo President Barack Obama’s signature legislation.
The repeal and replace plan died Monday when Moran and another Republican said they wouldn’t vote for the bill. Moran said Tuesday morning in a statement sent through spokeswoman Jordan Langdon that he would vote in favor of a motion to proceed with repealing the Affordable Care Act first.
“This should be followed by an open legislative process to craft health care policy that will provide greater personal choice, protections for pre-existing conditions, increased access and lower overall costs for Kansans,” Moran said.
The Kansas Hospital Association renewed its support for Moran with a statement applauding his “thoughtful approach.” If the repeal-first plan included a two-year delay, spokeswoman Cindy Samuelson said, the association believes senators will have a enough time to concoct a replacement.
U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell immediately called for a full repeal of Obamacare. The Senate would vote “in the coming days” on a repeal of former President Barack Obama’s signature policy “with a two-year delay to provide for a stable transition period to a patient-centered health care system,” McConnell said Monday night.
That plan, however, appeared to die before noon Tuesday. Three Republican senators — Susan Collins, of Maine, Shelley Moore Capito, of West Virginia, and Lisa Murkowski, of Alaska — expressed concern about the repeal-only option.
“I cannot vote to repeal Obamacare without a replacement plan that addresses my concerns and the needs of West Virginians,” Capito said.
Collins was one of two Republican senators to oppose a 2015 repeal-only bill that passed the Senate. That measure would have revoked the federal government’s authority to run health care exchanges, scrapped subsidies and end efforts to expand Medicaid. It also would have halted penalties for those who don’t buy insurance and employers who don’t offer it. The Congressional Budget Office estimated 32 million more people would be uninsured by 2026 under that plan, the Congressional Budget Office estimated.
“I do not think that it’s constructive to repeal a law that is so interwoven within our health care system without having a replacement plan in place,” she said in a statement on Twitter.
Murkowski also released a statement on Twitter telling members on both sides of the aisle to “roll up their sleeves and take this to the open committee process where it belongs.”
Sen. Rob Portman, of Ohio, hinted that he would oppose it as well, The New York Times reported.
On social media, Trump also called for Republicans to repeal the law before finalizing a replacement. He blamed Democrats and “a few Republicans” for the death of the plan to rewrite the ACA in a series of tweets Monday night. As the repeal-first plan fell apart Tuesday morning, he called on conservative support in the 2018 congressional election.
“With only a very small majority, the Republicans in the House & Senate need more victories next year since Dems totally obstruct, no votes!” he tweeted.
Meanwhile in Topeka, as many as 12 members of Topeka Indivisible gathered outside the Frank Carlson Federal Building, the home of Roberts’ local office. The group voiced support for policies including a single-payer system, expansion of Medicaid and protecting provisions for pre-existing conditions. Those talking points largely mimicked their previous visits to the senator’s office.
Brendan Beyer, one of the group’s organizers, said they were encouraged by Moran’s decision not to support the GOP’s replacement plan, but a full repeal would “triple” opposition to the GOP health care platform. The group has long called for a more transparent process and bipartisan input.
“He understands that if wants any chance to be re-elected he needs to step away from Trumpcare,” he said. “If they think we’re difficult now, wait until we’re fired up over an ACA repeal.”
Roberts staffers Harold Stones and Anthony Bruna brought water to the group and took notes on their concerns. Stone said he was unaware of any statement from the senator on a repeal-only bill.
“It’s a pretty fast moving target,” he said.
Contact reporter Luke Ranker at (785) 295-1270 or @lrankerNEWS on Twitter. Like him on Facebook at facebook.com/lukeranker.