With Kansas Senator's Opposition, GOP Health Care Bill Stopped

Jul 17, 2017

FILE PHOTO: U.S. Senator Jerry Moran
Credit U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

UPDATE: In Washington, D.C. Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran issued a statement saying that he would support President Donald Trump's efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a replacement.  That news quickly turned the mood of a demonstration at Moran's office in Olathe where opponents of the now failed replacement bill had been thanking the senator from Kansas for standing firm against it.

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran remains a “no” vote on the Republican’s Affordable Care Act replacement bill.

In late June, the Republican senator from Kansas, to the surprise of many, announced his opposition to an initial draft of the bill. But, as of the close of business Monday, Moran had not taken a position on the revised version released Thursday by GOP leaders.

That changed Monday night when he and Sen. Mike Lee, a fellow Republican from Utah, announced their opposition to the measure on Twitter.

In a statement also issued on social media, Moran said while he remained committed to repealing Obamacare, Congress needs to make a “fresh start” on writing a replacement bill and do it in an “open legislative process.”

“This closed-door process has yielded the BCRA (Better Care Reconciliation Act), which fails to repeal the Affordable Care Act or address healthcare’s rising costs,” Moran said. “For the same reasons I could not support the previous version of this bill, I cannot support this one.”

“We should not put our stamp of approval on bad policy,” he said.

At town hall meetings over Congress’ July 4 break, Moran said he was concerned the bill wouldn’t lower overall consumer costs or provide adequate protection for those with pre-existing conditions. He also expressed concerns that deep cuts in Medicaid over the next decade could threaten the survival of already struggling rural hospitals and nursing homes.

“I am a product of rural Kansas,” Moran said July 6 to an overflow crowd in Palco, a small town north of Hays. “I understand the value of a hospital in your community, of a physician in your town, of a pharmacy on Main Street.”

Moran’s renewed stand against the bill drew immediate praise Monday from Kansas groups that have spent the past several weeks urging him to maintain his opposition to it.

“Senator Moran's leadership will protect 120,000 Kansans from losing coverage and protect providers from devastating Medicaid cuts,” said David Jordan, director of the advocacy group Alliance for a Healthy Kansas.

“Kansans spoke out and Jerry Moran listened,” Hilary Gee, a Kansas lobbyist for the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network, tweeted in reaction to the news.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement late Monday the defections of Moran and Lee effectively kill the bill.

"Regretfully, it is now apparent that the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare will not be successful," McConnell said.

The Senate may now take up a straight repeal bill, McConnell said. One that repeals the ACA immediately but gives Congress two years to fashion a replacement.

Jim McLean is managing director of the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio and KMUW covering health, education and politics. You can reach him on Twitter @jmcleanks.

Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to kcur.org.