Democrats reach out to GOP senators to come up with health care deal

Sen. Sherrod Brown joined 45 other Senate Democrats and independents Bernie Sanders of Vermont and Angus King of Maine today to tell Senate Republicans if they drop plans to scrap the 2010 health law known as Obamacare they would “work with you to help all Americans get the affordable health care they need.”

In a letter to Senate GOP lawmakers, the Democrats also urged them to “drop the current partisan effort” to revise Obamacare through a budget maneuver which would allow a Republican bill to pass with just 51 votes. To do so, the GOP would have to produce a health bill that only changes tax and spending policies, but not dramatically change the structure of Obamacare, which would require 60 votes.

In a floor speech, Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer, D-N.Y., said “we’re ready to work in a bipartisan, open, transparent way to improve and reform our health care system.”

“Look, we’ve made a lot of progress in the last few years: kids can now stay on their parents’ plan until they’re 26, women are no longer charged more for the same coverage, there are more Americans insured than ever before,” Schumer said. “These are good things. We ought to keep them and build on our progress.”

Democrats have refrained from introducing their own bills to dramatically revise Obamacare, in large part because the law has extended health coverage to more than 20 million Americans who were without insurance before President Barack Obama signed the law.

In 2015, Brown introduced a bill that would have repealed what is known as the “Cadillac tax,” which levies an excise tax on expensive health plans. Although the law does not call on the tax to be imposed on the consumer, there are fears health insurers would pass the costs on to consumers.

The House bill abolished the Cadillac tax along with nearly $1 trillion worth of taxes, most of which were paid by the wealthy and pharmaceuticals.

Separately, Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio, told Fox News today that the Senate “is going to take a look” at the health bill passed this month by the House “and put our own imprint on it, and that means improving it in certain ways.”

“Democrats in a private moment and Republicans here on the Senate side all agree with that – that this system is not working as intended,” Portman said. “It is not covering the number of people it was intended.”

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