GOP senator eyes ban on states’ single-payer systems

GOP senator eyes ban on states’ single-payer systems
© Greg Nash

Republican Sen. John KennedyJohn Neely KennedyMORE (La.) is reportedly eyeing a ban on state single-payer health care systems in the new GOP ObamaCare repeal bill.

"I think a single-payer system is a bad idea," the senator said Monday in comments reported by The Washington Examiner.

"I think if you give a big chunk of money to California they're going to go set up a single-payer system run by the state and then come back and say, 'We don't have enough money, we need more.' I think the only way we are going to solve the health care problem in America is through the private sector."

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The GOP has once again embarked on a health care push, as Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamUS-Saudi Arabia policy needs a dose of 'realpolitik' Media cried wolf: Calling every Republican a racist lost its bite Rubio criticizes reporters, Democrat for racism accusations against McCain MORE (R-S.C.) and Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyFinding a path forward to end surprise medical billing Liberal think tank: GOP paid parental leave proposals are too narrow Senate GOP raises concerns about White House stopgap plan to avoid shutdown MORE (R-La.) pursue their new legislation to repeal much of ObamaCare by converting funds into block grants to states. The bill, known as Graham-Cassidy, has yet to garner the 50 votes needed for a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceTrump steps up attacks on 'Squad' after post-rally furor Trump is missing an opportunity in Hong Kong How China's currency manipulation cheats America on trade MORE.

Kennedy says he has submitted amendments to the bill in order to bar states from using the block grants to create single-payer systems.

"I don't think states should have the authority to take money from the American taxpayer and set up a single-payer system," said Kennedy in the Monday comments. "Some people think that's inconsistent with the idea of flexibility, but that's what the United States Congress is for. I very much believe in flexibility, and I know governors want flexibility, but it's our job to make sure that money is properly spent.”

Kennedy confirmed to The Hill on Tuesday that he is offering four amendments to the Graham-Cassidy legislation.

One amendment will make Medicaid’s work requirement mandatory, while the other will “set up a guard rail that would prohibit states from using the money we give them to set up a single-payer system,” Kennedy said.

Kennedy’s push for barring state single-payer systems comes as Democrats embrace Sen. Bernie SandersBernie SandersGabbard arrives in Puerto Rico to 'show support' amid street protests Democratic strategist predicts most 2020 candidates will drop out in late fall Sanders unveils plan to guarantee the 'right to a secure retirement' MORE's (I-Vt.) “Medicare for all” legislation, which the lawmaker introduced last week.

Sixteen Democrats have endorsed Sanders’s proposal, though it has not gained the support of Democratic leadership.

—This report was updated at 1:04 p.m.