Tester calls latest GOP health bill “pigpen”; Daines wants more info


U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., said Thursday that Senate Republicans’ latest proposal to repeal and overhaul the Affordable Care Act “still smells like a pigpen” and should be scrapped.

Montana’s other senator, Republican Steve Daines, said through a spokeswoman that he’s going through the latest draft and wants more information before making a judgment.

He also wants to listen to what Montanans have to say about the new Republican proposal, which was unveiled Thursday morning.

It’s unclear whether Republicans even have enough votes to bring the bill to the Senate floor, let alone pass it.

Tester, who’s been harshly critical of earlier GOP plans to repeal “Obamacare,” said in a statement Thursday that the newest plan “rips away coverage from thousands of Montanans,” by cutting Medicaid funds in the future and other actions.

It also would increase the cost of health coverage for people in their 50s and 60s, he said.

“This pig got more lipstick, but it still smells like a pigpen,” Tester said.

Daines, who hasn’t yet said whether he’d support any of the GOP proposals, needs to see “additional analysis” on the new plan, an office spokeswoman said.

Tester said Congress needs to work together to address rising health-insurance premiums and deductibles, and when Republicans are “ready to work in a bipartisan manner, I’ll be waiting at the table.”

Key elements of the GOP plan unveiled Thursday include:

  • Eventual reductions of federal funding for Medicaid, the state-federal program that pays medical bills for the poor and disabled.
  • Elimination of the mandate that all citizens must have health insurance.
  • Elimination of cost-sharing subsidies that pay some out-of-pocket costs for low-income Americans with coverage.
  • Maintaining of two key taxes on wealthy individuals.
  • Allowing insurers to offer less expensive, slimmed-down coverage plans.