Sen. Coons: Final Health Care Bill Probably Won’t Happen Until After ’18 Election

By Susan Jones | May 8, 2017 | 8:32 AM EDT

Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) expects Senate Republicans to take a long time producing a final health care bill. (Screen grab from MSNBC's "Morning Joe.")

( – Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) agrees that Obamacare needs to be fixed; he thinks Democrats should be part of the fix; but he doesn’t expect anything final to happen until after the midterm election.

“My guess is that Leader McConnell is going to take some time here, and while he may ultimately pass a bill in the Senate, I think he will send it to conference with the House. That conference will go on a very long time, and we won’t actually see a final product until after the ’18 elections,” Coons told MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” on Monday.

Coons is among the Democrats who suggest that Republicans, instead of rescuing Americans from a failing law, are trying to wreck it:

“I’m worried that there are going to be administrative actions by the Trump administration in the coming weeks and months that will drive the existing marketplaces into the death spiral they talk about.

“They’re not currently in a death spiral, but they could be there,” Coons said. “So we should come together to propose ways to fix insurance before it becomes a crisis.”

Obamacare already is a crisis, Republicans argue: “Obamacare is collapsing. Obamacare isn't not working,” House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) told ABC’s “This Week” on Sunday.

Ryan asked how Obamacare can help anyone, including people with pre-existing conditions, if the premiums and deductibles are unaffordable.

“So this is a rescue mission to make sure that we can achieve the goals we all want, which is getting the cost of coverage down and making sure that everyone has access to affordable health care, especially and including people with pre-existing conditions. That is what our bill does,” Ryan insisted.

“So let me just say a couple of things. You have got all of these health insurers. If they were doing so well, why would they be pulling out of the marketplace? Over 1,000 counties, one in three counties in America have one plan to choose from.

“Just this week in Iowa, their last statewide insurer said that they are going to have to pull out. So that means people in 94 of Iowa's 99 counties will have zero choices. Aetna just pulled out of Virginia. The law is collapsing. It's not working," Ryan said.

"You can't get health insurance in these places, whether you have a pre-existing condition or not. And so what we're trying to do here… is step in front of this collapsing law and make sure that we can have a system that works, a system with choice and competition and affordable premiums,” Ryan added.

Sen. Coons said Democrats will insist on retaining “national protection” for people with pre-existing conditions; and he said Democrats want to boost competition in the insurance markets:

“Small businesses … have told me over and over that they can’t afford the Affordable Care Act in states like Delaware where there’s just not enough competition," Coons said. “We need to work together to find ways to increase competition, to keep insurance companies in the market and not drive them out,” the senator added.

Appearing on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) said the House-passed health care bill has “a lot of major changes” that will have “a dramatic impact on the health care marketplace.” (Just as the Affordable Care Act did.)

“My position is, and I believe this is the Democratic position, don't repeal Obamacare. Take those sections like the individual market, which has some problems in it and deal with it and fix those sections. And it can be done,” Feinstein said.

“I'm really very worried that in the rush to judgment, we create a major health care problem for people, and we lose a lot of jobs in so doing and we create a whole atmosphere of unpredictability.”

Republicans, including Speaker Ryan, say that is just what Obamacare has done.

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