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Rejecting Straight Repeal, Ohio Senators Say Affordable Care Act Can Be Fixed

Rob Portman
Gage Skidmore
Flickr Creative Commons

Both of Ohio’s U.S. Senators say they still think it’s possible for lawmakers in Washington to come up with a plan to fix problems with the Affordable Health Care Act.

While Portman says there might be enough votes for a repeal, Portman says he can’t support that without a replacement, as Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell suggested.

"I would not support just having a repeal vote if that’s all that he is going to offer, but I don’t think that’s what is going to happen,” Portman says.

Portman voted along with Senate Republicans for a repeal of the Affordable Care Act in 2015, which was vetoed by President Obama, but even then he advocated for a replacement.

Portman says recent Republican plans have not done enough to provide care for the many Ohioans who rely on Medicaid for their healthcare. He also says he’s studying the idea of tax credits and a Medicaid match for people who are older, but still under 65, to buy private insurance.

“They cannot get healthcare with their employer because perhaps they’re no longer working. They can’t afford healthcare in the individual markets,” Portman says. “So they need this help and yet they will be in a private health care plan that actually might provide them better options.”

Democratic Sen.  Sherrod Brown says he and some other Democrats would like to work with Portman and other Republicans to come up with a plan.

"That would rein in abusive drug company practices, that would bring young healthy people into the insurance pool, which will help stabilize prices,” Brown says.

Neither Portman or Brown expressed support for President Trump’s call to simply “let Obamacare fail.”

At least 50 votes would be needed for the Senate to move ahead with any vote on health care.

Jo Ingles is a professional journalist who covers politics and Ohio government for the Ohio Public Radio and Television for the Ohio Public Radio and Television Statehouse News Bureau. She reports on issues of importance to Ohioans including education, legislation, politics, and life and death issues such as capital punishment.