HARTFORD, CT — It almost goes without saying that Connecticut’s elected officials panned the U.S. Senate vote to move forward with a debate on repealing the Affordable Care Act.
“This shameful step — in effect repealing the Affordable Care Act — means life or death to millions of Americans. It mocks our great democracy,” U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal said Tuesday.
U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy said after the vote Connecticut residents are “scared stiff, with good reason.” He said if this bill becomes law it would mean “devastation in our state.”
Murphy said “more than a hundred thousand would lose care, premiums would skyrocket, and the state budget will lose billions in federal funding.”
Following a vote to open debate, a measure to repeal and replace was defeated, but hundreds of other proposals are expected to be debated over the next 20 hours.
A vote on a bill that repeals the ACA subsidies, taxes, and Medicaid expansion is expected today. A repeal without a replacement would mean 32 million people won’t have insurance.
Murphy said he has more than 100 amendments prepared for the debate and wants to give Republicans “time to come to their senses.”
Since its enactment, the Affordable Care Act has survived two Supreme Court challenges and more than 60 repeal votes.
Connecticut was the first state in 2010 to expand its Medicaid population. There are currently about 770,000 residents on Medicaid and more than 220,000 gained coverage through the expansion that raised the threshold to 138 percent of the federal poverty level. There are another nearly 100,000 who have purchased private insurance through the exchange.
Connecticut, which is still struggling to pass a two-year state budget and close a yawning, $5.1 billion budget gap, would have added nearly $3 billion in costs to the state if the original version of the Better Care Reconciliation Act had passed. That’s according to an analysis by the Office of Policy and Management.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy called the decision to open debate on a “mystery” healthcare bill “abhorrent and dangerous.”
He said every version of the legislation that’s been made public would result in further destabilization of the individual market, millions to lose coverage, and premiums to increase.
He said instead of tearing down the Affordable Care Act, the Republicans should work with governors to come up with a solution “that will benefit all Americans, rather than risking the lives of millions.”
Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman, who chairs Connecticut’s insurance exchange, said there are 1.9 million Connecticut residents in the individual marketplace.
“The ACA has benefited millions of Americans,” Wyman said.
Some of the proposals Republicans put forward would get rid of the individual mandate, and even penalties for businesses with 50 or more employees who don’t provide health insurance. That means even those who are currently covered through their employers could lose coverage, and without a stable individual marketplace there will be few options, if any, to obtain affordable coverage.
Bipartisan groups like the U.S. Conference of Mayors are even calling on Senate Republicans to work on finding a solution to the problems with the ACA.
“The path the Senate has chosen to take today does not live up to what President Trump promised, which was to provide Americans with better healthcare for less money,” New Orleans Mayor Mitch Landrieu, president of the U.S. Conference of Mayors, said. “The bills that have been discussed in the House and Senate all lead to the same result: millions of Americans losing their health insurance. We are calling on the Senate to partner with mayors and governors from both parties to craft a bipartisan bill that would stabilize unsteady insurance markets, lower premiums, protect seniors, and give cities and towns in red and blue states alike the tools we need.”