WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork) — Lawmakers on Sunday were gearing up as the fight over the nation’s health care system heads to the U.S. Senate.
The bill that passed the House of Representatives last week sparked celebrations among the GOP faithful, but its future is far from certain as it faces the political landmines of the Senate.
The White House says it will practice patience as Senators propose changes to the bill before voting.
“You’ll have better healthcare at a lower cost,” President Trump said during his weekly address. “Now, I’m calling on the Senate to take action.”
As CBS2’s Ali Bauman reports, a 13-member working group within the Senate will make changes to the president’s healthcare reform bill.
But even with changes, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y/) says Democrats will vote it down.
“It’s nonsensical,” Schumer said Sunday. “I doubt the Senate would pass it. Both Democrats and Republicans have said this plan is no good.”
Meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Tom Reed (R-N.Y.) is defending his vote to repeal the Affordable Care Act, telling constituents at a town hall meeting Saturday there is ‘misinformation’ about its replacement.
“The issues with prices and premiums going up, hopefully, people will see that we are trying to solve the problem,” he said.
The House plan would make dramatic cuts to Medicaid by capping its funding as of 2020, and stop payments to states participating in Obamacare’s expansion of the program. The bill would also allow states to opt out of Obamacare protections for people with preexisting conditions — but only if the state sets up high risk pools to help mitigate costs.
“It will kick 24 million Americans off their insurance coverage,” Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) said. “It will force Americans to pay more for less.”
As WCBS 880’s Mike Smeltz reported, U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) on Sunday also called on her Senate colleagues to reject the health care bill.
“The fight now is urgent, and for thousands upon thousands of families right here in New York, it’s literally a fight to stay alive,” Gillibrand said.
Joining Gillibrand at a news conference Sunday was Erin Schick, who was working on her master’s degree at Columbia University when she came down with something.
She first thought it was a cold, but it turned out to be life-altering.
“First experiencing fatigue, and then an onset of chronic pain, and eventually losing the ability to walk,” she said.
Now in a wheelchair, Schick’s health care costs totaled $50,000 last year. That bill was covered by insurance because she is under 26 years old and still on her parents plan, a provision of Obamacare.
But Schick is worried what will happen to her insurance, when she moves off her parents’ plan with her now pre-existing condition.
“I don’t know what my health will be like in a year,” she said. “I don’t know what insurance options will be available to me when I am 26.”
Also joining Gillibrand was small business owner Steve DiMaio, who said he recently needed open heart surgery and is afraid he could be bankrupted again if the GOP health care bill becomes law and he needs surgery again.
“We cannot allow people in this country to go with inadequate health insurance or with no health insurance, because no matter how old you are, something like this could happen to you,” he said.
White House spokeswoman Sarah Huckabee Sanders expects the Senate to make changes, but keep the bill’s main pillars.
“We want to get it right, not get it fast and that’s the — that’s the focus,” she said.
As the bill moves to the Senate, the president is already moving to his next agenda.
“We’re going to get this finished and then we’re going as you know, put our tax plan in,” Trump said. “It’s a massive tax cut, the biggest tax cut in the history of our country.”
One proposal from a Republican congressman may have swayed some undecided members in favor of the bill — the amendment would add $8 billion over five years to cover insurance for people with pre-existing conditions.