Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin, the chamber’s No. 2 Democrat, on Sunday kept open the possibility of a bipartisan deal to rework ObamaCare, with the task now totally in the hands of the Senate.
“Let’s sit down together,” he told “Fox News Sunday.” “I don't agree with many aspects of [the Republicans’] starter plan. But it's a good faith effort to do two things: Reduce the cost of health insurance and expand the reach of health insurance. That should be our national goal.”
Durbin spoke after the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office on Wednesday released a final audit on the GOP-led House’s ObamaCare overhaul bill.
Though the report found that 23 million Americans would lose health insurance by 2026 and that premium costs would increase under the chamber’s American Health Care Act, it also concluded the plan would reduce the federal budget by $119 billion over 10 years.
That’s more than enough savings to allow the GOP-led Senate to pass its overhaul version under special budget rules that prevent Democrats from stopping passage with a filibuster.
Senate Democrats have repeatedly acknowledged that the 2010 Affordable Care Act, known as ObamaCare, has problems, particularly increasing premiums with few policy options.
However, Democrats are largely trying to use Republicans’ repeal-and-replace attempts against them in the 2018 elections and beyond, pointing out that millions could lose insurance under the current GOP plan.
“The Senate will write its own bill,” Louisiana GOP Sen. Bill Cassidy, a doctor and member of the Senate Committee on Health Education Labor and Pensions, told “Fox News Sunday.”
“Right now, there are families sitting around their kitchen table. They're paying $20,000, $30,000 and $40,000 a year for premiums,” continued Cassidy, who has an ObamaCare replacement bill with Maine GOP Sen. Susan Collins. “I think the Senate product, I'm hopeful, will be more likely to address their needs.”
Durbin argued Sunday that the Trump administration should at least try to keep ObamaCare from toppling before it can be fixed.
And he criticized Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., for creating a 13-member group to lead the overhaul effort without including a single Democrat and neither Cassidy nor Collins.
“I'm sorry that the two of them are not in the room with the 13 apostles that Senator McConnell's chosen to come up with the Republicans plan,” Durbin said.
Cassidy and Durbin appeared to agree that Justice Department special counsel Robert Mueller will get to the bottom of whether President Trump’s inner circle colluded with Russia during the 2016 presidential elections, but that Americans appear equally if not more concerned about heath care and the economy.
“I agree with Dick's assessment,” Cassidy said. “When you speak to folks back home, voters across the nation, they're more concerned about their climbing health care premiums and the need to have jobs with better wages and better benefits. This will play out. We will know eventually. Right now, Americans need help with their premiums.”