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Sherrod Brown Blasts Latest GOP Health Care Bill

Sherrod Brown
Nick Castele

Democratic U.S. Senator Sherrod Brown says he’s very concerned about the latest Republican attempt to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, which seems to have cautious support from his fellow Senator from Ohio, Republican Rob Portman. 

The bill would cap Medicaid, reduce spending and distribute federal money to states. Brown said Ohio and other states that enacted Medicaid expansion will suffer because the bill will cut back the federal funds that they’ve been getting. 

“It’s just incredible that Congress is going to reorder one-sixth of the nation’s economy and have virtually no hearings, no score from the Congressional Budget Office – nobody really knows what’s in this bill,” Brown said.

Republicans are pushing for a vote on the bill before the nonpartisan CBO can release its analysis of how much it would cost and how people would be affected.

Brown also criticized how the bill allows states to eliminate “essential health benefits” and does not mandate coverage for pre-existing conditions. He noted the bill doesn’t include $45 billion in opioid crisis funding that a previous repeal-and-replace attempt did.

"Two hundred thousand Ohioans are getting opioid treatment because they have insurance through the Affordable Care Act," Brown said. "So (the bill) is worse in the sense there's no opioid dollars in it, which causes concern in states like Ohio and New Hampshire and West Virginia."

Portman, who voted for an earlier GOP repeal effort, is reportedly asking for it to be put back into the Cassidy-Graham bill. Portman praised the flexibility the bill gives to states, saying Ohio would do a better job than the government in distributing health care money.

Gov. John Kasich said he opposes the Cassidy-Graham plan because of concerns about the future of Medicaid expansion, and has pushed to continue bipartisan talks to fix the health care system.