Several members of Massachusetts’ congressional delegation lauded reports Tuesday that Senate Republicans will move away from their proposed plan to dismantle the Affordable Care Act amidst pushback from Democrats and a handful of GOP lawmakers.
They, however, expressed concerns about Republicans’ continued push to repeal and later replace the law known as Obamacare, pledging to remain firm in opposing such efforts.
Calling Senate Republicans’ Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 a “heartless bill,” U.S. Rep. Richard Neal, D-Springfield, contended that the results of lawmakers’ efforts to draft it “in secret, without any hearings, markups or public input” speak for themselves.
The Springfield Democrat called on Republicans to listen to Americans and work with Democrats on bipartisan health care solutions, arguing that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, and President Donald Trump’s plan to repeal the ACA without an immediate replacement could kick 32 million Americans off of health insurance.
“That’s the only way we’ll actually make meaningful improvements to help lower premiums for the middle class, lower prescription drug costs and protect Medicare and Medicaid for seniors, children and folks living with disabilities,” he said in a statement. “That’s what the American people deserve.”
U.S. Sen. Ed Markey, D-Massachusetts, who has been an outspoken critic of the Senate GOP health care plan’s proposed Medicaid cuts and potential impact on opioid addiction treatment efforts, also called for bipartisan-backed solutions to issues in the current health care system.
“It’s time to end the ACA repeal effort and focus on bipartisan solutions to reduce health costs and improve care,” he tweeted Tuesday. “Keep raising your voices and sharing your stories. health care is a right for all, not a privilege for the few.”
The Massachusetts Democrat further argued that the health care debate “was never about policy, it was always about politics and keeping the GOP promise of tax breaks for the wealthy.”
Congresswoman Katherine Clark, D-Melrose, contended that “the failure of the Senate version of Trumpcare is good news for the millions of Americans who would have lost their health care under the current bill.”
She, however, offered that Republicans remain committed to repealing the ACA without a replacement — not working with Democrats.
“This scheme means that after passing a repeal, Republicans will work with President Trump to sabotage our existing health care system in the hopes that Democrats will agree to a replacement that takes critical health care protections from most Americans while giving a tax break to their rich friends,” she said in a statement. “That’s right – millions of Americans will suffer in order to force Democrats to agree to permanently take health care away from Americans who need it.”
Contending that such a plan is “cynical” and “immoral,” Clark said Democrats “we need to fight it every step of the way.”
U.S. Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Worcester, meanwhile, rejected Trump’s assertion that Democrats will join Republicans in repealing the ACA and working on a new health care plan.
“Americans don’t want you to take healthcare away from their families. We must protect our care, not destroy it,” he tweeted at the president. “Taking healthcare from 30-plus million Americans and hiking premiums isn’t a solution. House Democrats will fight like hell to protect our care.”
McGovern further called the Senate bill’s failure to gain adequate GOP support “a victory for millions of Americans who made their voices heard.”
Hours after McConnell announced that efforts to repeal and immediately replace the law known as “Obamacare” would be unsuccessful in his chamber, Trump remained firm that Republicans will continue their efforts to overhaul the health care system.
“We were let down by all of the Democrats and a few Republicans,” he tweeted Tuesday morning. “Most Republicans were loyal, terrific and worked really hard. We will return!”
Trump added he has “always said: let Obamacare fail and then come together and do a great health care plan.”