Sen. Portman: Not 'appropriate' to vote for Obamacare repeal wit - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Sen. Portman: Not 'appropriate' to vote for Obamacare repeal without replacement

Tuesday protest in front of Sen. Rob Portman's office (Source: WOIO) Tuesday protest in front of Sen. Rob Portman's office (Source: WOIO)
CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) -

Sen. Rob Portman said he doesn't support a repeal of the Affordable Care Act without a replacement in place, but according to a spokesperson, that doesn’t mean he necessarily plans to vote "no" on a repeal next week.

“I have said consistently that I support repeal and replace, and I’m not giving up on doing both of those things,” Portman said. “I don’t think it’s appropriate just to repeal.”

Portman has stressed how important it is to him to be able to combat the opiate epidemic in Ohio. He has also noted that many people receiving treatment for opiate addiction have health insurance through Medicaid that was expanded due to the ACA.

Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell plans to hold a vote to repeal the ACA early next week. Cleveland 19 asked Portman’s spokesperson if that means that he will vote against that since there isn’t a replacement ready to go. She said she wouldn’t be able to say that, as negotiations are still ongoing.

About a dozen people, many of them members of Planned Parenthood, held a protest outside of Portman’s downtown Cleveland office Tuesday afternoon.

“We won't stand for it. We'll be out here every day until he commits to voting ‘no’ on any effort to repeal the ACA, de-fund Planned Parenthood, or gut Medicaid,” said Marion Clarke, a regional manager for Planned Parenthood.

Clarke said she believes Portman is playing a political game.

“With him being an advocate against the opioid crisis he has to make sure that he stands by the promises that he's made to his constituents in Ohio, because that was a big part of his campaign and the reason why he won this past election," Clarke said.

Ohio’s other U.S. Senator, Democrat Sherrod Brown, in a statement Tuesday that it's past time for Republicans and Democrats to work together and find ways to lower costs and make healthcare work better for everyone.

Full statements from both Ohio US Senators:

Senator Rob Portman

“On health care, as you know, I’ve made my concerns very clear about the current health care system. I think the Affordable Care Act has not been good for Ohio. Premiums and deductibles have skyrocketed, typically for middle class families and for small businesses. This has been a huge problem. I had some constituents come in today and a guy and his wife told me about their premiums going up, and more importantly for them is that their deductible is so high it’s like they don’t have insurance, and they’re in one of those counties, you know, that’s having a tough time because insurers are leaving. So it’s not just that Ohio has suffered from a nearly doubling of our health care premium costs just in the last four years—82 percent increase in small businesses—but there’s also been a lot fewer choices.

“We now have 19 counties in Ohio without a single insurer in the individual market. We have another 27 counties now with just one insurer. So it’s a real problem, and we need to lower the cost of coverage, and at the same time provide access to quality care and protect the most vulnerable, particularly because we expanded Medicaid. I’ve been very clear about that, I’ve expressed my concerns about the existing healthcare system, but also about the proposal that came out of the House, and the proposal that came out of the Senate initially. I don’t think they were responsive to what we have going on in Ohio, which is not just expansion of Medicaid, but an opioid epidemic and Medicaid is a significant payer for that. But I’ve rolled up my sleeves and I’ve worked to find common ground with my colleagues to try to come up with positive solutions that are in the best interest of Ohio and our country and I’m going to continue to do that.

“I have said consistently that I support repeal and replace, and I’m not giving up on doing both of those things. I don’t think it’s appropriate just to repeal, we’ve also got to put a replacement in place to help deal with the very issues I just talked about. Over the past year, as I’ve said, we’ve had a lot of destabilization of our insurance market in Ohio. That’s true around the country. Ohio has been hit harder than most states though, I will say. When the 2015 bill was passed we had at least two insurance companies providing insurance, writing insurance in every Ohio County. Most counties had multiple insurance companies. We’ve gone, by the way, during that period from 16 insurance companies in Ohio to about 10. And again, 19 counties now have no insurance company in the individual market and 27 only one insurer. And, so, there’s an urgency here for Ohio, and the best approach I think is to continue to work with my colleagues in the hopes that we can come together around a replacement plan that actually works to address these problems. These are real problems and we can’t ignore them.”

U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown

“The people of Ohio have made clear they do not support Washington politicians with taxpayer-funded healthcare ripping it away from working families. It’s past time for Republicans and Democrats to work together. Let’s get the insurance CEOs and big pharma lobbyists out of the room and sit down together and find ways to lower costs and make healthcare work better for everyone.”

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