July 26, 2017

Will Senator Portman Break His Promise and Vote for House Bill?

Columbus, Ohio – The latest Senate Republican health care repeal plan — the so-called “skinny” repeal plan — is nothing more than a bait-and-switch. The plan goes like this: pass a bill that can get 50 votes in the Senate, or the “lowest common denominator” as HHS Secretary Tom Price admitted Wednesday morning. Then, use that bill to hold more partisan secret backroom deals with the House, using the House repeal bill as a “template.” Only 17 percent of Americans support the House-passed repeal bill, which takes coverage away from 23 million people, raises premiums, ends Medicaid as we know it, and allows insurers to charge more for people with pre-existing conditions.

A vote to pass the Senate’s “skinny” repeal plan is, in effect, voting for the House repeal bill, a proposal that Senator Portman said he opposed. In other words, if Senator Portman votes for the “skinny” repeal plan, he will break his promise to oppose the House repeal bill:

Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH): “I’ve Already Made Clear That I Don’t Support The House Bill As Currently Constructed.” “I’ve already made clear that I don’t support the House bill as currently constructed because I continue to have concerns that this bill does not do enough to protect Ohio’s Medicaid expansion population, especially those who are receiving treatment for heroin and prescription drug abuse. We have an opioid crisis in this country, and I’m going to continue to work with my colleagues on solutions that ensure that those who are impacted by this epidemic can continue to receive treatment.” [Portman Statement, 5/4/17]


Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-TX): “All We’re Looking At Is A Way To Get That To Conference Quick” And The House Bill Would Be A “Template” For Negotiations. “Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) indicated Wednesday that is it likely the Senate will try to pass a scaled-down ObamaCare repeal bill as a way to move to negotiations with the House. The No. 2 Senate Republican told reporters Wednesday that a scaled-down, ‘skinny’ bill ‘seems to have a lot of benefits, getting us to conference.’ Republicans view the so-called skinny bill as a way to keep the repeal process alive, given the chamber’s apparent inability to get the votes for a more sweeping bill. Cornyn said the House-passed bill could be the ‘template’ for the negotiations in the conference committee. Many Senate Republicans, however, previously rejected the House bill and wanted to start over. …’So I think all we’re looking at is a way to get to that conference quick,’ he added.” [The Hill, 7/26/17]

  • Cruz Amendment Gutting Protections For People With Pre-Existing Conditions Would Be On The Table In Conference. “Cornyn noted that new Senate ideas — such as Sen. Ted Cruz‘s (R-Texas) amendment to let insurers sell plans outside of ObamaCare’s regulations and Sen. Rob Portman‘s (R-Ohio) amendment to add $100 billion to help people losing Medicaid afford private coverage — could be included and could help pave the way for a deal in the conference committee. ‘We use the template of the House bill that addresses all of these issues and come up with the best of the ideas we’ve developed, like the Cruz freedom amendment and the Portman negotiation on Medicaid and the wraparound, and all those would be live and could be used as part of a deal in the conference committee,’ Cornyn said.” [The Hill, 7/26/17]

Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX): “My Personal Goal Is To Make Sure That We Find Something That 50 Of Us Agree On, That We Can Then Pass As A Vehicle To Get To Conference To Do A More Comprehensive Bill.” [Roll Call, 7/25/17]

Sen. Corker (R-TN): “Skinny” Repeal Is “Forcing Mechanism” To Get To Conference With The House. “Corker says ‘content’ of skinny bill not the point, rather it is ‘forcing mechanism’ for conference with House.” [The Hill’s Peter Sullivan Tweet, 7/26/17]

Sen. Mike Rounds (R-SD) Said Skinny Repeal Is A Way To Get To Conference. “Sen. Mike Rounds (R-S.D.) likewise said Wednesday that passing the skinny bill would be a way to get to the conference committee, and would also buy time for the Congressional Budget Office to score the new proposals, including the Cruz and Portman amendments.” [The Hill, 7/26/17]


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