WASHINGTON — Amid the ongoing debate to once again attempt a repeal and replacement of the Affordable Care Act, one Republican lawmaker wants to tack on an amendment that would prevent individual states from using block grant funds to implement their own single-payer healthcare system.
Louisiana Sen. John Kennedy called for an amendment to halt any attempts by states to bring about single-payer should the Graham-Cassidy healthcare bill become law.
Kennedy told Business Insider on Tuesday that Senate Republican leadership informed him he would at least get a vote on the plan, but it was unclear what kind of support it would garner amongst his colleagues.
“I mean look, I don’t believe in a single-payer system,” Kennedy said. “I don’t think putting in a guardrail that says you cant have a single-payer system is inconsistent with giving states flexibility. That’s our job.”
South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham, who is one of the co-authors of the healthcare bill, said he would be unlikely to support Kennedy’s amendment.
“You know federalism can’t be on your terms,” Graham said. “If California wants to go to single-payer health care plan, let them knock themselves out. I’m not here to tell people what’s best for them, I’m here to give them a chance to decide other than somebody in this town.”
In addition, a Republican leadership aide suggested that telling states which programs they can or cannot implement would be antithetical to the bill’s federalist principles, telling Business Insider that Kennedy’s plan “flies in the face of” states’ rights.
However, Kennedy suggested his plan was not out of line and that barring states from choosing their own systems would not infringe on states’ rights.
“To me it’s not inconsistent with states’ rights to say we’re going to provide guardrails within which you can exercise your state rights and one of those is that you can’t use this money to establish a single-payer system,” he said. “Now, some say that can’t happen under this bill and great, then they shouldn’t mind the amendment.”
Whether Kennedy’s support for the Graham-Cassidy bill hinges on whether it includes his amendment to prevent statewide single-payer programs from manifesting is unclear and a spokesperson for Kennedy was not immediately available for comment.
“My litmus test has always been, is the replacement better than the Affordable Care Act and if I can answer yes, I will vote for it even though it’s not perfect,” Kennedy said. “My litmus test tells me that this bill passes muster and I will vote for it. But there are weaknesses in it that I would like to try to strengthen.”
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