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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Washington senators: Don’t jam through new Trumpcare plan

By Jim Camden and Betsy Z. Russell The Spokesman-Review

Washington’s Democratic senators called for a bipartisan fix to health care rather than the latest GOP effort.

But Idaho’s senior Republican senator said he’s evaluating the proposal as he tries to keep a promise to repeal and replace “Obamacare.”

Sen. Maria Cantwell urged her Republican colleagues to slow down their efforts to make major changes to the nation’s health care system, saying it’s more important to get it right than to finish quickly.

In a speech on the Senate floor, Cantwell called the proposal that may come up for a vote before the end of the month an attempt to kick people off Medicaid and end the program as it now exists.

“There is nothing innovative about privatizing Medicaid,” the Washington Democrat said. Rather than push for a vote on the Republican bill being developed by Sens. Lindsay Graham and Bill Cassidy, the Senate should continue bipartisan discussion for a bill that members of both parties can support, she said.

Sen. Patty Murray is involved in that bipartisan effort as the top Democrat on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pension Committee. She and Sen. Lamar Alexander, who is chaiman, held a series of four hearings over two weeks with patients, doctors, hospital officials and insurance experts to develop new legislation.

They’ve had discussions with more than half the Senate and negotiated in good faith for weeks, Murray said Tuesday. They identified common ground and she made some “tough concessions” to move toward Alexander’s push for more flexibility for states.

“I am disappointed that Republican leaders have decided to freeze this bipartisan approach and are trying to jam through a partisan Trumpcare bill,” she said. “But I am confident that we can reach a deal if we keep working together, and I am committed to getting that done.”

Sen. Mike Crapo is evaluating the Graham-Cassidy proposal, his press secretary said, and “remains committed to fulfilling the promise of repealing and replacing Obamacare.”

“At this point, no new vote has been scheduled on health care reform measures and discussions continue among members this week both on this issue and tax reform,” Crapo spokesman Robert Sumner said.