ALBANY — U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer said he has heard from 10 of his Republican colleagues in response to his call for a bipartisan approach to health-care legislation.
“No one thought Obamacare was perfect — it needs a lot of improvements,” Schumer, a Democrat, said after an unrelated press conference at Albany Medical Center hospital. “We’re willing to work in a bipartisan way to do it. What we objected to was just pulling the rug out from it and taking away the good things that it did: Medicaid coverage for people with parents in nursing homes, for opioid treatment, for kids with disabilities, pre-existing conditions.”
The so-called “skinny repeal” bill, which would have removed some of Obamacare’s least popular provisions, failed on Thursday in a 51-49 vote. According to the New York Times, Schumer told Sen. John McCain, a Republican from Arizona, that he was committed to a legislative effort in regular order to improve the health care system. McCain cast an unexpected and decisive no vote.
Schumer said he was “all for” the concept of a bill advanced by Rep. Tom Reed, a Republican from the Southern Tier, that would mandate roughly $7 billion in federal cost-sharing subsidies that reduce out-of-pocket costs for poor consumers. Schumer, the Senate’s minority leader, said he wasn’t sure if legislation would emerge in a big bill or take several steps.
“Well, we’ll have to wait and see. The first step is to try and stabilize the system — that means the cost-sharing which would reduce premiums and increase coverage. Both Democrats and Republicans — Senators [Tim] Kaine and [Tom] Carper and [Susan] Collins — have talked about re-insurance plans, so the most severe cases go into a separate insurance fund and that reduces costs,” Schumer said. “Those are immediate things, but in the longer term Republicans have some ideas, we have some ideas, and we’ll sit down and try to hash them out as Congress should do.”