Updated on July 25, 2017 at 6:08 PM Posted on July 25, 2017 at 6:07 PM
Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price, center, followed by Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, walk to their seats for a White House luncheon July 19 with President Donald Trump. Portman cast a key vote Tuesday in favor of Senate debate on health care reforms; without Portman’s vote, leaving just two GOP dissenters, Vice President Mike Pence was able to break the tie with a deciding vote to proceed with debate.(Pablo Martinez Monsivais, Associated Press)
Sen. Rob Portman cast the wrong vote Tuesday in supporting a hasty, politically motivated effort to allow Senate debate and, presumably, a vote on one or a series of ill-considered, narrowly partisan measures likely to devastate health care in Ohio.
Senate votes to start Obamacare repeal, with Rob Portman’s support
Despite the vote, how Senate Republicans move forward is anything but certain.
He did so despite knowing better.
As Sen. Susan Collins, a Maine Republican who cast one of only two Republican “nos” on the Senate floor, said before the vote, no one even knew exactly what senators were being asked to debate and maybe vote on.
Will it be Paul Ryan’s repeal-and-replace House bill; a version of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s “Better Care Reconciliation Act”; a rewrite of a 2015 Affordable Care Act repeal attempt, with a Senate promise to replace the law later; a “skinny” Obamacare repeal as unveiled Tuesday, or some other variant?
Under such a confused scenario, debate will necessarily be shallow and limited, especially since Democrats are still being excluded from substantive input.
Portman, a suburban Cincinnati Republican, had said that protecting Ohioans would be a key guide on his vote.
It didn’t prove so.
Given what McConnell’s proposals seek to do, the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates nearly 860,000 Ohioans could lose Medicaid coverage through 2029 – as our earlier editorial noted, that’s more than the population of Portman’s Hamilton County.
Portman says health care legislation must protect vulnerable Ohioans and those receiving anti-opioid treatments under Medicaid expansion, but McConnell has sought to secure Portman’s votes with fig-leaf offers of additional money.
Portman, it appears, fell for it.
With his Tuesday vote opening the door to possible passage of proposals that would undercut Ohio’s rural health care system and strip hundreds of thousands of Ohioans of coverage, Portman let Ohio down.
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