Cleveland Clinic CEO Toby Cosgrove opposes Graham-Cassidy bill, but supports health care changes

The president and CEO of the Cleveland Clinic told Cleveland 19 that he was against the most recent effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare, but that doesn’t mean he thinks the current law is perfect. 

Dr. Toby Cosgrove told Cleveland 19 Tuesday that his objections were not politically motivated. 

“I don't think most people know if I'm a Republican or Democrat and so I generally don't speak out on politics, but I think this is so important that I'm willing to do that which I think is so uncharacteristic of my normal stance,” said Cosgrove. 

He objected to the Graham-Cassidy bill, saying it wouldn't be good for hospitals or patients.

“This was just such an egregious approach to try and put together a bill that was going to influence in a major way 18 percent of the Gross Domestic Product and every citizen in the United States, and I thought it was such bad form and bad policy that I thought I had to speak up,” said Cosgrove.

He also objected to how quickly the legislation was moving. It was initially introduced and expected to be voted upon within a month. 

Since Cosgrove didn’t like the proposed repeal plan, Cleveland 19 asked him what he thought of the current law, the Affordable Care Act. 

“I think you have to look at Obamacare and what it accomplished. First of all, it got more people covered. There's only eight percent of the population now that doesn't have insurance, which is the lowest of all time. I think you can say it improved the quality of care across hospitals across here in the United States without any question it's gradually gotten better, the bigger problem is that the costs continue to go up,” said Cosgrove. 

He said costs do need to be lowered, and said one way to do that is by addressing the issues of what he referred to as the three epidemics the nation is currently in the midst of: smoking, obesity and the opiate epidemic. He said 16 percent of Americans still smoke, 10 percent are obese, and issues with opiate abuse continue to rise.

Cosgrove said he hopes to see a bipartisan, long-term, effort to fix existing issues with the ACA moving forward. 

He said whether or not he would oppose any new measures to repeal the ACA would depend entirely upon what’s in any new legislation.  

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