SOUTHINGTON - Democratic legislators U.S. Rep. Elizabeth Esty, U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy and U.S. Rep. John Larson spoke Wednesday at the Connecticut Health Council at the Aqua Turf Club to express their woes with the health care battle in Washington, D.C. and urge local health care representatives to fight for the Affordable Care Act.
The legislators were part of a panel, moderated by Jeff Gitlin, principal of U.S. Health Industries Advisory Leader at Pricewaterhouse Coopers. Collectively, they criticized Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s proposed replacement for the Affordable Care Act, colloquially referred to as Obamacare, and expressed a dismal outlook on the possibility of the House and Senate finding a suitable replacement.
“It is clearly of political importance to the Republican party to deliver on their promises of the past six years to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act,” Murphy said. “However, they have never given any thought to what comes after repeal. Paul Ryan’s plan was unworkable and unpassable and it was pulled from the floor in 17 days.”
“Now that the Republicans are in power they don’t have Obama to scapegoat,” said Larson. “The Freedom Caucus doesn’t want any government intervention or subsidies, they see it like welfare. These were groups that were enthusiastic to bring in Trump but the further right they go with their plans, the more moderates they are going to lose.”
“People are finding out that while they say they don’t like Obamacare, they like the Affordable Care Act,” joked Esty, who compared the situation in Washington to a dog who caught a car and doesn’t know what to do with it.
The Democratic legislators also collectively stressed that there “is a path ahead” and urged Republican legislators to work with them to come up with a bipartisan solution.
“We have to get back to governance and that can only happen with both parties at the table,” said Esty. “If we want to be competitive then we can’t be spending 18 percent of our GDP on health care in a very inefficient way.”
The legislators urged the health care professionals in attendance to make their voices heard.
“The Trump administration is probably very open to hearing the business perspective,” said Esty. “Let them know what chaos and uncertainty means for your ability to stay afloat.”
“Some of the national associations have been pretty quiet because they want to play ball with Republicans,” said Murphy. “The Ryan bill would have murdered us in Connecticut.”