Tensions high in Washington as a deadline looms for health care reform

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- The halls of Capitol Hill are lined with protesters and lobbyists today, attempting to sway lawmakers as the health care battle continues. The latest version of an “Obamacare” repeal and replace effort came out today, the same day a Senate committee held a hearing on the topic. Serious division remains in Washington over what to do about health care. A nursing home advocate says she thinks our lawmakers can do better.

Kathy Gallin says the Cassidy-Graham health care bill could decimate long term nursing care.

“We would like to see our legislators sit down and negotiate a bill that is good for the entire country where there are compromises made,” says Kathy Gallin, an advocate for nursing homes.

A new week in Washington, a renewed fight over health care. Capitol Hill is buzzing with folks speaking out against the Graham-Cassidy Obamacare repeal bill. Gallin says this legislation would be devastating. “We had over 10,000 signatures of nursing home residents, stakeholders, and communities sign a petition in opposition to this horrible bill that will decimate the actual long-term care community,” says Gallin.

She says nursing homes could lose hundreds of billions of dollars because of the bill's proposed cuts to Medicaid. Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown says the latest version of the legislation is not acceptable, and simply an effort to sway GOP senators on the fence.

“The Republicans, their leadership are trying to buy off senators by paying off the senators from Alaska and Maine and giving enough money to get them to vote for it. I don’t think it’s going to work,” says Brown.

The bill’s sponsors — Senator Lindsey Graham and Senator Bill Cassidy — testified before Senate Finance Committee Monday to plead their case. The message from the White House remains: let’s get this done, now.

“This is an opportunity with Graham-Cassidy to really put the power...take the power outside of Washington and put it back to states,” says Seema Verma, Administrator of the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services.

She says the time for one-size fits all health care is over. Verma says states know best what their constituents need, and they should distribute health care funding.

“We don’t want to see the American people suffer anymore with high prices and fewer choices, and paying more mandates and penalties,” says Verma.

There is not yet a vote date for this legislation.



 
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