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Sherrod Brown Is Willing To Work With Republicans On Health Care, To A Point

Sherrod Brown
Nick Castele

All Republican Senators have been called to a meeting Thursday to talk about the GOP’s newest plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act. But some are also meeting with Democrats about an alternative. Democratic Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown says he’d be willing to be part of such talks

During a conference call on the impact the Affordable Care Act on rural Ohio, Brown repeated what he’s said for months, that parts of the act need to be fixed.

And he laid out four areas on which he said he’d be willing to work with Republicans: Subsidies to keep the insurance markets stable, getting more young people enrolled, controlling drug prices and ensuring there’s a public option – fashioned along Medicare – in every market.

“That would solve all of those problems, but it needs an administration that’s willing to step up and back off its injecting its uncertainty in the health insurance pool,” Brown said.

Brown says Medicaid expansion under Obamacare provides coverage for 170,000 people in Ohio’s 50 rural counties. He estimates residents in those counties will see premiums go up from $400 to nearly $1,100 next year if the Senate GOP plan is enacted.

Brown is also anticipating practical problems with Republican plans to apply for waivers to exempt them from some of the mandatory coverage that’s part of the Affordable Care Act.

He says he’s especially concerned that insurance companies would go back to offering policies with high co-pays, high deductibles and little coverage.

“In some cases these waivers could allow states to eliminate maternity care,” Brown said. “And Ohio’s got some of the highest rates of infant mortality in the country, and we’re going to eliminate maternity care? It’s just colossally stupid.”

The law as it stands allows limited state waivers. Republicans maintain that state officials know better about the needs of their citizens than the feds do.

Republicans are set to release a new version of their bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act, on Thursday.