Republican efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act are complicated in part by Democratic obstruction, the personal nature of health care, and the familiarity of Congress with the subject, Sen. Roy Blunt said on Saturday.
Backed by President Donald Trump, GOP leaders in Washington, D.C., have been straining to undo or eliminate Obamacare despite holding majorities in both the U.S. House and Senate. The issue has saturated news coverage since Trump took office in January, and numerous attempts to change or gut the landmark health care law have failed so far.
Blunt, R-Missouri, cited several factors for the delay in an interview with the News-Leader on Saturday.
“The members of the Senate, and I suspect the House, are much better prepared on health care than any Congress has ever been,” Blunt said. “They understand the issues, they understand the intricacies of Medicare and Medicaid like they didn’t before, and to some extent, it almost makes it harder for some of my colleagues to make a decision.
“Because the more you know about health care, the more you know when you push one place, something else comes out somewhere else, and trying to figure out the cause and effect of what you’re doing is a real challenge.”
President Trump was not pleased that the Republican’s effort to repeal and replace Obamacare collapsed.
Health care reform is also a difficult task because it affects every family and is “very personal,” Blunt said.
“In our state, there are a lot of stories to tell about people who no longer have insurance that serves their needs or can’t afford the insurance they have,” he said. “But clearly, there are also stories of people who, rightly or wrongly, have been scared by this debate that somehow, they’ll lose the central coverage for them.”
One major concern for many is the possibility of major cuts to Medicaid in the form of caps on spending growth. Medicaid spending amounts for about one-third of Missouri’s $27 billion budget.
“A lot of that discussion is from states that expanded Medicaid. We didn’t do that,” Blunt said. “So I think Missourians have less to be concerned about no matter what direction we go than people in the expansion states might have. But in any case, what we’re trying to do with Medicaid generally is put it on a sustainable path.”
Also complicating matters, Blunt said, are Democrats in D.C. who are using parliamentary rules to block Trump’s nominations. Blunt recently upbraided Democrats on the Senate floor about their “unprecedented obstruction” and claimed that at the current pace, it would take 11 years for Trump to fill out his administration.
“I think health care is very complicated,” Blunt said. “I’m not sure how many options we had, but I think both President Clinton, President Obama and President Trump have now experienced some of the danger with starting with health care.”
Blunt was in Springfield to speak and mingle at a barbecue hosted by The Association of Republicans Getting Everyone Together (TARGET), an arm of the Greene County GOP.