Republican Sen. Tom Cotton of Arkansas on Tuesday tore into the Trump administration for its proposed health care overhaul which would come in three phases.
GOP leaders such as President Donald Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan, and Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, have claimed that their current plan is just “step 1 of 3.”
But during a Tuesday appearance on conservative radio host Hugh Hewitt’s show, Cotton said the men were using nothing more than “political talk” and openly admitted there was “no three-phase process.”
“Hugh, there is no three-phase process. There is no three-step plan. That is just political talk. It’s just politicians engaging in spin. This is why. Step one is a bill that can pass with 51 votes in the Senate. That’s what we’re working on right now. Step two, as yet unwritten regulations by Tom Price, which is going to be subject to court challenge, and therefore, perhaps the whims of the most liberal judge in America. But step three, some mythical legislation in the future that is going to garner Democratic support and help us get over 60 votes in the Senate. If we had those Democratic votes, we wouldn’t need three steps. We would just be doing that right now on this legislation altogether. That’s why it’s so important that we get this legislation right, because there is no step three. And step two is not completely under our control.”
The American Health Care Act according to Cotton is just a way to win a simple majority in the Senate through budget reconciliation. Any bill after that point would require 60 votes in the Senate and would be subject to Democrats staging a filibuster.
Cotton also admitted that the plan instituted by Price at HHS could be challenged, and all of a sudden the AHCA could be Republicans’ only chance at controlling an overhaul of the healthcare system.
This isn’t the first time Cotton has criticized the AHCA, he also went after the proposed adjustments to the ACA’s Medicaid expansion, for which Arkansas accepted funding. At the time he said he House GOP should “pause” and “start over” on the healthcare plan.
Cotton on Tuesday also criticized the score given to the bill by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Cotton said that while “the CBO director is not Moses” and “he’s not walking down from the mountaintop with stone tablets,” the report should still be taken seriously.
“All that said, I think the Congressional Budget Office is directionally correct,” Cotton said. “They’re right that coverage levels will go down in the coming years under the House bill. They’re also right, I’m afraid, that insurance premiums will continue to go up in the near term, for three to four years, before they start perhaps falling in the long term.”
He wants the House GOP to seriously edit the bill before it reaches a vote.
“However, I suspect that the political consequences of those near-term changes means that the long term will never actually arrive,” Cotton said.
“That’s why I believe it’s so important that the House take a pause and try to fix some of these fixable problems in their committees, which is the easiest place in Congress to fix them, whereas the Senate floor is the hardest place to fix them,” he concluded.