Kansas senators split as healthcare vote is delayed

Marc LaVoie
June 28, 2017 - 8:15 am

As the Republican Party's long-promised repeal of "Obamacare" stands in limbo, Kansas' two senators indicate they have differing opinions on the issue. 

Senate GOP leaders abruptly shelved a vote as pessimism grew about the future of the legislation.

Sen. Jerry Moran said he cannot support the bill in its current form. Sen. Pat Roberts said he is open to changes in the bill but wants a vote to take place as soon as possible.  

Moran said he was pleased by a delay of the Senate's debate on the bill. In a weekend interview on Fox News Moran said he was concerned about how the bill would affect people in Kansas' rural areas. 

"We have some unique issues when it comes to healthcare, including, how do we make certain that community hospitals in small towns across towns across Kansas, physicians in our community, pharmacy on Main Street," Moran said. "How do we make sure that not only is healthcare, how do we make certain it's accessible."  

"We can't afford to have a plan that might put our healthcare providers in jeopardy, either," Moran said.

Moran also said the bill's plan to roll back expansion of Medicaid could hurt states, like Kansas, that did not expand the benefit for lower income citizens. 

Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell announced the delay Tuesday after it became clear the votes were not there to advance the legislation past key procedural hurdles. Trump immediately invited Senate Republicans to the White House, but the message he delivered to them before reporters were ushered out of the room was not entirely hopeful.

The bill has many critics and few outspoken fans on Capitol Hill, and prospects for changing that are uncertain. McConnell promised to revisit the legislation after Congress' July 4 recess.

"It's a big complicated subject, we've got a lot discussions going on, and we're still optimistic we're going to get there," the Kentucky lawmaker said.

But adjustments to placate conservatives, who want the legislation to be more stringent, only push away moderates who think its current limits - on Medicaid for example - are too strong.

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