Wyden, Merkley call for bipartisan health care reform after defeat of 'skinny repeal' bill

Oregon Democratic Senator Ron Wyden pleads for his colleagues to vote against the 'skinny' repeal of the Affordable Care Act on July 28, 2017.

Following the Senate’s rejection of a measure to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act early Friday morning, Oregon Democratic senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley called for a bipartisan effort to reform health care.

“It’s 2:15 in the morning on Friday and I just want to say thanks to all the people in every corner of Oregon who called and texted…making it very clear that Trumpcare wasn’t the right way to go, and instead they wanted Congress to work in a bipartisan way to deal with the big health care challenges," Wyden said in a video posted on Twitter.

“Democrats and Republicans should now come together to look for ways to improve our existing health care system— to improve the options available to all Americans, to lower prescription drug prices, and to continue reducing the number of people lacking insurance," Merkley said in a statement.

The so-called "skinny repeal" bill was released late Thursday night before it was voted on a couple hours later. Merkley, in a tweet, called the process "an embarrassment to the Senate."

The bill was narrowly defeated after a 51-49 vote that took place at around 1:30 a.m. ET. Three Republican senators voted against the bill: John McCain, Lisa Murkowski, and Susan Collins.

In his statement, Merkley lauded the "political courage" of the three senators.

“I have profound respect for the three Republican Senators who joined us in protecting health care for the American people— Senators McCain, Murkowski, and Collins," Merkley said. 

Before the vote, Wyden pleaded for his colleagues to kill the bill in a five-minute speech.

“Skinny repeal could be the gateway drug to full Trumpcare,” he said. “I urge my colleagues to think about what it’s going to be like to go home and explain to their constituents how this misery, how this health care misery, came to be a part of their lives every single day.”

Watch: Wyden addresses Senate about 'skinny' repeal bill

The Congressional Budget Office said 16 million more people would be uninsured by 2026 under the bill. The non-partisan federal agency also estimated premiums would increase 20 percent every year between 2018 and 2026.

The American Medical Association also denounced the bill, calling it a “toxic prescription that would make matters even worse.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, said the bill would have ended the mandates that individuals buy health insurance and that larger employers offer affordable coverage to their workers. He said it also would have provided more flexibility to states in providing medical care to low-income Americans and repeals the medical device tax for three years while increasing the amount of money that people can contribute to Health Savings Accounts.

© 2017 KGW-TV


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