Dem says ObamaCare repeal effort moves US ‘toward single-payer’

Dem says ObamaCare repeal effort moves US ‘toward single-payer’
© Greg Nash

Rep. Earl BlumenauerEarl BlumenauerCongress should stand with the majority of Americans and support Rohrabacher-Blumenauer amendment Dem to join mental health group advocating Trump's removal House votes to block aircraft sales to Iran MORE (D-Ore.) said the Republican effort to repeal and replace ObamaCare may expedite the timeline of transitioning to government-funded healthcare by about a decade.

“They have made the public more aware of Medicaid than ever before, specifically, and healthcare generally,” Blumenauer said Wednesday at The Hill’s Health Rx: Building Affordability & Access event. “They’ve accelerated the move toward single-payer, probably advancing it by a decade.”

On Tuesday, Republicans voted to begin debate on an ObamaCare repeal bill. It’s unclear whether the Senate will be able to muster enough votes to pass a bill — and exactly what the product would look like.

But an emerging concept is a “skinny repeal,” the contents of which haven’t been determined but would likely include at least a repeal of the individual and employer insurance mandates, as well as the medical device tax. If such a measure passes the Senate, it would allow the upper chamber and the House to conference their bills together.

As Republicans struggle to pass a bill, some Democratic senators, such as Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth Ann WarrenOvernight Finance: Lawmakers grill Equifax chief over hack | Wells Fargo CEO defends bank's progress | Trump jokes Puerto Rico threw budget 'out of whack' | Mortgage tax fight tests industry clout Michelle Obama is exactly who the Democrats need to win big in 2020 Wells Fargo chief defends bank's progress in tense Senate hearing MORE (Mass.) and Kirsten GillibrandKirsten Elizabeth GillibrandChris Murphy’s profile rises with gun tragedies Overnight Energy: Dems take on Trump's chemical safety pick Dems lambaste Trump’s ‘outrageous’ EPA chemical safety pick MORE (N.Y.) have gotten on board with a single-payer system, and Blumenauer believes the current political quagmire will increase momentum.

Seven years ago, during the Affordable Care Act debate, Democrats couldn’t even gather the votes to pass a public option plan — a government-run health plan that would exist alongside private plans.

“At the time, we were engaging in something that hadn't happened, this was Harry Truman dealing with the universal healthcare. … It’s been 70 years to get where we are today,” Blumenauer said. A “public option seemed to be a bit too risky.”

Since then, Blumenauer said, the debate has evolved amid “an entirely different landscape.”

“I think the steps for Medicare for All or Medicaid For More are pretty simple, incremental steps that can go forward moving that because the public is aware, the inefficiencies have been exposed and what we’re seeing in terms of the dynamics that people are struggling with in terms of trying to make this one-sixth of the economy function better.”

GOP House members are waiting for the Senate to wrap up its ObamaCare repeal debate, hoping the upper chamber can pass a bill.

“I think the Senate needs to pass whatever their version of healthcare reform is and then work together with the House to come together on a bill that will work for the American people,” Rep. Larry BucshonLarry Dean BucshonDem says ObamaCare repeal effort moves US ‘toward single-payer’ The Hill's 12:30 Report Watch: House GOP veterans appear in Memorial Day video MORE (R-Ind.) said at The Hill’s event, sponsored by the Council for Affordable Health Coverage.

A few hours later, the Senate’s No. 2 Republican indicated that the chamber would try to pass the scaled-down bill in an effort to convene a conference. After conference, the bill would be sent to both chambers for final passage.

Senate Majority Whip John CornynJohn CornynGun proposal picks up GOP support House bill set to reignite debate on warrantless surveillance Republicans jockey for position on immigration MORE (R-Texas) said a skinny repeal bill “seems to have a lot of benefits, getting us to conference.”