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 GrahamCentrist efforts to convince Trump to end shutdown falter Overnight Defense: Four Americans killed in Syria suicide attack | State of the Union becomes latest shutdown flashpoint | Missile defense review on track for Thursday release White House condemns 'terror attack' that killed US troops in Syria MORE (R-S.C.) and Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyMnuchin meets with Senate GOP to shore up ranks on Russia sanctions vote Trump on declaring national emergency: 'Not going to do it so fast' Acosta mocked for border reporting: 'Exactly – walls work!' 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 signs law guaranteeing back pay for federal workers Pence says 'ISIS has been defeated' hours after attack that killed US troops in Syria School where Karen Pence will teach prohibits LGBT students, faculty 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 SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersTexas man indicted over allegations he created fraudulent campaign PACs Overnight Energy: Wheeler weathers climate criticism at confirmation hearing | Dems want Interior to stop drilling work during shutdown | 2018 was hottest year for oceans Dems offer measure to raise minimum wage to per hour 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.