After three days of debate and voting, the final proposal from Senate Republican leadership known as “skinny repeal” of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) failed by a 49-51 margin. This measure would have repealed the individual insurance mandate and the medical device tax, and delayed the employer mandate for eight years. Along with the failure of two other proposals earlier in the week, the vote brings an end — for now — to Republican efforts to repeal and replace the ACA that have lasted for six months.
WSHA opposed all of these proposals, and we thank Sens. Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell for their principled leadership in opposition to them, along with Reps. Dave Reichert and Jaime Herrera Beutler for their votes against repeal and replace in the House.
The hospital community has been consistent in its position that any replacement option for the ACA needs to ensure coverage for at least as many residents. We recognize that the ACA is not perfect, and we stand willing to work with members of Congress from both sides of the aisle to craft sustainable policies that stabilize the individual insurance market, increase the quality of care and bring down costs in the health care system.
While outright repeal may be off the table for now, Congress does need to ensure funding for the subsidies that help low-income people offset the cost of their copayments and deductibles. That is likely to be on the congressional agenda in September. Sen. Murray — as the senior Democrat on the Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee — will play a leading role in any bipartisan legislation. Other measures may also be developed in the months ahead to help stabilize the individual insurance market.
Next steps and August recess
The House of Representatives adjourned today for its August recess; the Senate is scheduled to be in session for another two weeks. We urge all hospital and health system leaders to take advantage of the recess to urge their member of Congress to seek bipartisan solutions to the challenges facing the ACA. In the coming days, WSHA will provide additional information for members to use in meetings during the upcoming August congressional recess.
Statement from WSHA President & CEO Cassie Sauer on the Senate health care vote
This statement was sent today to members of the media.
Last night the U.S. Senate voted down a partial repeal of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The partial repeal — a so-called “skinny” reform — would have removed largely insurance-related portions of the ACA, such as the individual and employer mandates. While we are glad that our residents will not lose their access to the health insurance coverage they have gained, we hope the Senate’s vote will provide an opportunity for lawmakers to reassemble and approach health care reform in a bi-partisan manner.
We agree that the ACA isn’t a perfect system, and there are areas where improvement is needed. As we have said consistently since this debate began, any changes to the current law would need to maintain or increase the access to affordable health insurance coverage that is provided through the ACA. We hope our lawmakers will move forward together to make impactful changes to address the challenges faced by our health care system.
Health care should never be an issue of the left versus the right. We’re all in this together, and only through collaboration will we affect meaningful change that can improve the lives of our residents.