Fix Obamacare, don’t destroy it, Sen. Sherrod Brown says

Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio
caption arrowCaption
Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio

The Ohio senator is in Dayton today railing against the Senate health care bill.

Sen. Sherrod Brown said Democrats would help Senate Republicans craft a bipartisan plan to stabilize the 2010 health law known as Obamacare if GOP lawmakers end efforts to use the health bill to cut taxes for wealthy Americans and drug companies.

Although Senate Republicans have not enlisted Democratic support to revise Obamacare, Democrats have expressed willingness to offer ideas aimed at stabilizing the marketplaces set up by the law — which permit middle-income Americans to buy federally subsidized individual insurance plans.

“None of the Democrats are willing to do a huge tax cut,” for wealthier people said Brown, D-Ohio. “That is off the table.”

RELATED: Ohio House decides against override vote on Kasich’s veto of Medicaid cuts

But Brown, who visited Dayton’s Children’s Hospital Thursday morning, said, “Let’s go back and fix” Obamacare “to bring more healthy people” into the markets known as exchanges, which would help reduce the rapid growth rate of premiums for individual plans.

“There are things to fix,” Brown said of the law. “I didn’t say it was perfect. Every time government has done something big — such as when Richard Nixon created the EPA, Franklin Roosevelt created Social Security and Lyndon Johnson created Medicare — we came back four or five years later to make adjustments, minor or major.”

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office concluded last month the Senate GOP plan would cut federal taxes by $750 billion during the decade, including eliminating capital gains and Medicare tax increases on wealthy Americans that helped finance Obamacare. But the analysis also showed the bill would cut off health care to 22 million Americans.

RELATED: Retiree health care cuts looming for cops and firefighters in Ohio

As the Senate GOP bill has stalled, Ronna McDaniel, chairwoman of the Republican National Committee lashed out at Democrats charging “while Republicans work to fix our broken health care system, Democrats have dug in their heels in the name of partisanship, instead focused on obstruction and resistance.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., is relying on a budgetary maneuver to pass a health bill with just the votes of the 52 Senate Republicans. McConnell has said if the GOP cannot the pass the bill, he will then seek support from Democrats.

Brown said of McConnell: “He never had any intention of wanting this to be bipartisan bill. It’s all to get a tax cut for the rich.”

RELATED: Check out this video for how prescription drug prices get set

Brown said that he, Republican Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, and Democratic Sen. Joe Donnelly of Indiana “could write a bill that would make positive changes. But McConnell doesn’t want that.”

Obamacare helped reduce the number of people without health coverage in two ways. Families of four earning between $34,000 and $98,400 a year can receive federal tax credits to buy individual insurance policies through the exchanges.

In addition, the law expanded eligibility for Medicaid, the joint federal and state program that pays health costs for low-income people. The federal government provided billions of dollars to the states to cover a family of four earning as much as $33,948 a year, which is 138 percent above the federal poverty line.

Gov. John Kasich accepted the federal dollars to provide health coverage to more than 700,000 people in Ohio.

RELATED: Ohio releases names of pot cultivators

Kasich has objected to the Senate Republican bill, which would gradually phase out Medicaid expansion by 2024, forcing states to dig up billions of dollars to continue the program. A House bill approved in May would end Medicaid expansion in 2020.

Portman, too, has indicated concern over the Senate bill. Asked Thursday, Portman spokesman Emily Benavides said, “Rob is working to fix our broken health care system and ensure that people battling addiction have access to the treatment they need – and would be happy to work in a bipartisan manner to achieve that goal.”

The CBO has estimated that that the Senate GOP bill would cut the growth rate of Medicaid by $772 billion during the next decade, which would reduce Medicaid enrollment by 16 percent by 2026.

About the Author