Washington’s Senators Pan Trumpcare Revision, Idaho’s Studying It

By:  Jim Camden and Betsy Z. Russell
Source: The Spokesman Review

Washington’s two Democratic senators quickly criticized the latest version of the nation’s health care system Thursday while Idaho’s two Republicans said they needed time to study it.

In a Democratic leadership news conference shortly after Senate Republican leadership unveiled its revised health care legislation, Sen. Patty Murray tried to use President Donald Trump’s words against him in her assessment of the proposal.

“If he called the House bill mean … can you imagine what he’s going to say about this bill?” Washington’s senior senator said. “They made this bill worse, even meaner.”

It hurts women’s health by cutting money for Planned Parenthood and doesn’t provide enough money to fight the nation’s problem with opioid addiction, she said.

Republican leaders “caved” to the most conservative members of their caucus by adding a provision that would allow insurance companies to offer plans with less coverage, she said. That would shift the cost and lead to higher rates for anyone who is not young and healthy, she contended.

Sen. Maria Cantwell said that change would allow insurers to offer “junk” plans that don’t cover the essential benefits required by current law. Washington state tried that in the 1990s, she said.

“Guess what happened?” Cantwell said in a speech on the Senate floor late Thursday afternoon. “Nearly all of the insurers in our state pulled out of the individual market and a death spiral ensued. Because the cost then of that individual market was so high and so great, they couldn’t service it.”

Rather than offering plans that will drive up costs for older residents, Congress should be trying to drive down costs, she said: “What we need to do is make sure that we are delivering the most cost-effective care as possible and to make sure that people are getting access to care.”

Senate Democrats all are expected to vote against the proposal, so Republican leaders will need at least 50 of their 52 members to vote yes. Idaho’s two GOP senators weren’t committing one way or another Thursday.

A spokesman for Mike Crapo said the state’s senior senator is reviewing the text and waiting for the Congressional Budget Office analysis before making a decision. “This is an ongoing process and the bill may change again,” Robert Sumner, his press secretary, said.

Sen. Jim Risch’s communication director said he was “reading and studying the text.”