A Republican senator received applause Thursday from fellow Kansans for his opposition to the initial version of the Senate health care bill, which the Congressional Budget Office said would result in 22 million people losing insurance coverage over the next 10 years.
Sen. Jerry Moran, appearing at a packed town hall in Palco, Kansas, assured concerned constituents that he opposed the bill because it would harm rural hospitals and endanger children, the elderly and people with disabilities.
He added that he is “waiting to see what the next version of this bill is.”
Several constituents at the gathering, which lasted about an hour and focused primarily on health care, stood up to thank Moran for coming out against the legislation, which contains drastic cuts to Medicaid and other health programs.
“I want to applaud your position on the current health care bill,” one man said.
“Yes, thank you,” another woman chimed in, drawing a round of applause.
Moran made public his opposition to the bill only after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) postponed a vote on it last week ― a delay caused by other GOP senators airing strong criticisms of the proposal. McConnell and the Senate’s other Republican leaders are working on a new draft that they hope to bring to the floor later this month after it is reviewed by the CBO.
“I await that conclusion,” Moran said at the town hall, which was live-streamed by IndivisibleKC, a local Democratic activist group
Moran conceded that some people had indeed benefitted under the Affordable Care Act, which he and other GOP lawmakers have attacked for years.
“There are people who tell me they are better off [under Obamacare], and I believe them,” he said.
Still, the senator maintained the law did not work as intended for all Americans. He argued that Kansas and other states like it who chose not to expand Medicaid are unfairly “punished” by Obamacare by having to pay more.
“There’s not a hospital I can find in Kansas that’s better off because of the ACA,” he said.
The Kansas Hospitals Association supported expanding Medicaid in the state, a measure that was ultimately vetoed by Kansas Gov. Sam Brownback (R) earlier this year. The group also opposes the current Senate health care bill.
After a man in the rural town of roughly 300 people asked about the impact on those with disabilities under the Senate health care bill, Moran said he “wouldn’t want to do anything that would take away your prescriptions.”
The senator dodged questions from several constituents who urged him to consider a single-payer or a Medicare-for-all health care system, saying he wanted to maintain the program’s solvency first.
Moran is not the only GOP senator who backed away from the Senate health care bill this week as Congress is in recess. Sen. John Hoeven of North Dakota ― another primarily rural state ― said at a Wednesday roundtable that he “doesn’t support the bill as it stands.”
But Hoeven told his listeners at a hospital in Grand Forks, North Dakota, that he was optimistic the rewrite of the legislation would address his concerns.