HARTFORD — With the dramatic failure in the Senate early Friday to pass legislation to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act, Connecticut Democrats expressed hope that after this latest setback Congressional Republicans would heed their calls for a bipartisan health care fix.
“People in Connecticut tell me they’re tired of the two parties simply using their health care as a political cudgel,” said Sen. Chris Murphy. “Now we have an amazing opportunity for Republicans and Democrats to actually work together to keep what's working in the Affordable Care Act and improve what's not working.”
At a Friday afternoon press conference at the state Capitol, Sen. Richard Blumenthal credited the failure to “millions of Americans who never gave up,” speaking at town halls or participating in marches and rallies against Republican efforts to repeal Obamacare.
“A few profiles in courage slowed — and maybe stopped — a tragic assault on American health care,” Blumenthal said. “Being in the Senate Chamber for this vote was a proud and moving moment. We must now come together, reaching across partisan divides.”
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said Congressional Republicans should work with state leaders to devise fixes to the Affordable Care Act.
“Republicans in the House and Senate must immediately stop this attack on health care and instead work with the nation’s governors – both Democrats and Republicans – to stabilize the market and make improvements to the current system that will benefit all Americans, rather than needlessly putting millions of lives at risk,” he said.
The “skinny” bill that failed Friday morning would have ended Obamacare’s individual mandate requiring all Americans to buy insurance or pay a fee and put the employer mandate – requiring companies with more than 50 workers to provide health insurance – on hold for eight years. It also blocked federal funding for Planned Parenthood. The bill did not contain the deep cuts to Medicaid that earlier versions did.
According to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office, 15 million more people would be uninsured in 2018 if the legislation was passed, and premiums in the individual market would jump 20 percent.
@realDonaldTrump: 3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down. As I said from the beginning, let ObamaCare implode, then deal. Watch!
Friday’s 1:30 a.m. vote came after several other repeal bills were voted down this week. Text of the slimmed-down repeal bill wasn’t released until late Thursday. During a speech on the Senate floor Murphy described the process as “nuclear-grade bonkers.”
“We are going to have two hours to review a bill, which at first blush, stands essentially as health care system arson,” he said. “This bill is lighting the American health care system on fire with intentionality.”
@ChrisMurphyCT: Seriously, this is weapons grade bonkers. 3 Senators just announced they will vote for repeal only if assured it will never become law.
Three Republican senators joined all 48 Democrats in sinking Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s latest repeal effort. Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who had voted in favor of beginning the health care debate Tuesday, ultimately voted “no” on Friday morning’s so-called “skinny repeal.”
Murphy said he spoke to McCain as the two senators headed from their offices to the Capitol to vote.
“I ran into John McCain as we walked underground to the Senate for the final vote,” he tweeted early Friday. “Someday I'll get to tell my grandkids what he said to me.”
“We didn’t talk long — he shot off like an arrow with his coterie of staff,” Murphy wrote in a first-person account of the day’s events that he posted on the website Medium. “But I will remember the moment for the rest of my life, a reminder of why there is no one else in politics, and there will never ever again be anyone in politics, like John McCain. The original Maverick. A man with a sense of dignity and purpose that is all too rare nowadays in public life.”
In Hartford Monday morning Malloy said: “I wish we had Republican leadership in Connecticut that has the strength of John McCain.”
@ChrisMurphyCT: I ran into John McCain as we walked underground to the Senate for the final vote. Someday I'll get to tell my grandkids what he said to me.
Rep. Jim Himes, chairman of the moderate New Democrat Coalition, said his group had presented ideas to stabilize insurance markets and control costs and premium increases to moderate Republican lawmakers.
“At this point, the future is unclear,” he said. “But that’s a good thing. it means there are still options and opportunities for Congress to build on last night’s momentum in the coming months and take action that will benefit everyone. It’s time for real cooperation.”
“The question is: Where do we go from here?” Blumenthal said. “I think we should listen to John McCain. In his profoundly eloquent speech as he returned he urged that we come together, that we work on a bipartisan basis, that we go back to the way that laws should be made.”