CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Congressional Republicans shouldn’t give up on writing a new health care policy — even if it means working with Democrats, U.S. Sen. Chuck Grassley said Wednesday.
Grassley wants to get all 100 senators involved in “repairing the broken promises of the Obamacare bill.”
The House approved its plan, the American Health Care Act, with difficulty and the Senate GOP has been unable to get the necessary votes to proceed with debate on its version of health care reform.
“We shouldn’t give up in the United States Congress,” Grassley told reporters.
Grassley, who voted to repeal the Affordable Care Act in December 2015, said he would vote for that plan again because it would give Congress two years to come up with a replacement for Obamacare.
“I would vote for almost any motion to proceed because I think all 100 senators should have an opportunity to participate in a serious way,” he said, adding that he would like to see a return to “regular order.” That’s the normal legislative process of bills being assigned to committees for discussion and hearings, and the text being released to the public.
Although he wants all members of the Senate to be able to join the discussion and offer amendments, the Iowa Republican is not optimistic about the likelihood of a bipartisan effort.
“It’s kind of hard to take Democrats seriously on bipartisanship when Schumer has said they shouldn’t work with us,” Grassley said, referring to U.S. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York.
Repealing Obamacare would force Congress to take action, Grassley said. If no action is taken, the Affordable Care Act remains in place indefinitely “with all the faults that you’ve heard me talk about, all of the broken promises and all the increases in premiums.”
However, when legislation sunsets or expires, Congress takes action, Grassley said.
“So, in two years, there would be nothing and that forces Congress to act,” he said.
Grassley again downplayed concerns that the Congressional Budget Office has projected that more than 22 million people would lose their health insurance under the GOP plans.
Obamacare, he said, was premised on people being able to keep the doctor of their choice, the insurance plan of their choosing and that premiums would go down.
“Those were things that CBO projected were possibilities, but they didn’t turn out that way,” Grassley said.
“This doesn’t even start for three years for Medicaid then phases in over five years,” he added, once again referencing the GOP plan. “We’ve got opportunities to change things if they don’t work out.”