U.S. Representative Kathy Castor is breathing a sigh of relief now that the GOP-Senate led repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act has blown up in spectacular fashion.
On Monday night two Senate Republicans – Jerry Moran of Kansas and Mike Lee of Utah, came out in opposition to the bill, leaving Republican leaders at least two votes short of those needed to start debate on the measure.
That prompted Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to declare that he hoped to pass a straight repeal of the ACA, with a replacement to come two years down the line. But that idea was rejected on Tuesday by three other GOP Senators – Susan Collins of Maine, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, immediately declared they could not vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a replacement.
“Families and small business owners can breathe a sigh of relief now that Senate Republicans have failed to find the votes to rip health coverage away from millions of Americans as part of their repeal scheme. Families across the Tampa Bay area and across the country rallied at the grassroots to fight Trumpcare and appear to have won the day. I was proud to stand ‘shoulder-to-shoulder and heart-to-heart’ with all of you!” Castor declared enthusiastically in a statement issued by her office on Tuesday.
In addition to the GOP Senators who said they could not support a flat repeal of the ACA came a statement from a bipartisan group of 11 governors around the country who said that the Senate should reject that plan.
“The Senate should immediately reject efforts to repeal the current system and replace sometime later,” said the group, which includes five Republicans, five Democrats and one independent. “This could leave millions of Americans without coverage. The best next step is for both parties to come together and do what we can all agree on: fix our unstable insurance markets.”
Castor says that she now hopes that her Republican colleagues will turn to “bipartisan solutions” to lower health care costs and enhance competition. “Washington does not have all of the answers and it is time to have open public hearings in both Houses of Congress with knowledgeable experts, rather than draft a bill in the back room and try to ram it through. President Trump’s response to just do nothing at this point is not responsible leadership,” she said.
Like many if not every congressional Democrat, Castor says that instead of replacing the ACA, Republicans need to work constructively with Democrats to fix the problems still attached to the current healthcare system.
“I want to work with my colleagues to build on the successes of the Affordable Care Act, which has dropped the number of uninsured Americans to its lowest in history and ended discrimination against our neighbors with pre-existing conditions,” she said in laying out specifics. “I urge my colleagues to work with me by increasing competition in exchanges in areas of the country that need it and tackling the skyrocketing costs of drugs. These actions and cooperation could strengthen the ACA and expand healthcare coverage for American families.”
Castor isn’t the only Florida Democrat who now says it’s time to put aside the partisan rancor and have members from both major political parties work to help the American people.
“I’m working with Susan Collins right now,” Senator Bill Nelson told reporters on Tuesday, according to the Tampa Bay Times’ Alex Leary. “In the case of the insurance company that has a catastrophic loss, you create a reinsurance find. You insure the insurance company against the catastrophe. Same thing we did in Florida on hurricanes.”