The Congressional Senate Finance Committee held the only public hearing on the Republican Graham-Cassidy health care bill Monday.
With the sound of protestors echoing outside the committee chamber, Oregon Democrat Sen. Ron Wyden said the bill is about is about “as popular as a root canal.”
As the committee’s ranking member, Wyden said the bill punishes states that have built strong individual markets, like Oregon, and rewards states that ignored the Affordable Care Act.
He said Democrats would like to work on a bipartisan effort to fix problems.
“We’ve got a good bill for kids. A children’s health insurance plan, nine million kids,” Wyden said. “The funding for that program, colleagues, runs out in just a few days at the end of the month.”
Wyden said the Senate should be considering a “bipartisan way” to stabilize private insurance instead of debating another Republican effort to repeal or replace the Affordable Care Act.
The bill’s co-sponsor, Republican Lindsey Graham, told the committee that Obamacare is a disaster in his state. He said Carolina had five companies offering insurance in 2014. This year, he said, it has just one.
Graham said if nothing is done, Medicare and Medicaid spending could consume the entire federal budget by 2042.
If Republicans can’t pass changes to the Affordable Care Act by Saturday, they’ll need 60 votes on future attempts — a mark that is widely seen as nearly impossible for the GOP.