President Donald Trump took to Twitter Tuesday to urge Republicans Senators to use the so-called "nuclear option" to quickly pass the GOP health care repeal and replace bill.
“The U.S. Senate should switch to 51 votes, immediately and get health care and tax cuts approved, fast and easy. Dems would do it, no doubt,” the morning tweet reads.
The U.S. Senate should switch to 51 votes, immediately, and get Healthcare and TAX CUTS approved, fast and easy. Dems would do it, no doubt!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) May 30, 2017
The GOP bill is already moving forward through the expedited process of reconciliation that only requires 50 votes, but even that is posing a challenge for Republicans divided over the bill.
“I don’t know how we get to 50 votes at the moment, but that’s the goal,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell told Reuters last week.
“Mitch McConnell is working very hard to get 50 votes. He wants to get this done and behind him,” Sen. Patty Murray said on Tuesday.
“This could happen very quickly. Right now, there are 13 Republican Senators…they are not keeping it quiet…all men, sitting in a room, working to come up with their substitute to the House,” she said.
While Republican Senators have said their version of the bill passed by House Republicans earlier this month would look much different, Murray and concerned health care providers still fear the worst.
“I can’t stress to you how tragic this is going to be if this comes to pass,” said Dr. Rhonda Medows, chief population officer at Providence St. Joseph, one of the largest not-for-profit health systems in the U.S.
Medows remains especially concerned about the proposed cuts to Medicaid, a program she herself relied on as a child who came down with tuberculous.
“The child in me that needed that services all those decades ago," she said. "I would not be here today.”
The House version of the bill phases out the Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act and proposes to cap spending to states with a fixed per-capita amount, or block grants.
NBC News called it one of the most sweeping changes under the House passed bill.
Currently, 1.5 million Washington residents are enrolled in Medicaid, including 600,000 who signed up under the expansion, according to a spokesman with the State Exchange.
Nationwide, more than thirty other states also expanded Medicaid under the ACA. If federal funding is cut, Doctors worry states won’t be able to absorb the cost gap, resulting in forced cuts to health care services.
“We not only go back, we go even further back, because now we have a population that understands what they’re truly going to be losing. They’ve been able to get prevention; they’ve been able to get maintenance care,” said Medows. “We basically take ourselves back decades.”
Meanwhile, Washington Congresswoman Cathy McMorris Rodgers, the number four ranking Republican in the U.S. House who helped write the GOP health care bill says the legislation is just the first step in a series of proposed reforms.
"I am heartbroken when I hear the misinformation causing fear and is really causing panic. There’s a lot of false information," she told KING 5 in an interview on Thursday. "The legislation that passed the house, it’s a first step, and the funding to Medicaid, it continues to increase every year. It is a per capita cap; there’s the funding for the states; there’s a commitment to the Medicaid expansion, anyone who’s on the Medicaid expansion. But over a ten year period, it’s not anticipated that expansion will continue to grow the way it was first anticipated. I think there's a lot of fear that is misplaced."
McMorris Rodgers also argues that the proposed changes to Medicaid give power back to the states and individual families.
“People think we have one health system in the United States. We actually have 50 or 51 health systems,” said Dr. Rod Hochman, CEO of Providence St. Joseph Health, which operates in seven states. “When we’re in Alaska or Texas, it’s almost likely working in different countries. We already have a substantial difference state to state. What we think with what the Republicans are ready to do, is turn the whole market into further chaos.”
Hochman acknowledged there are serious issues within the current health care system that need to be examined, namely affordability. However, he believes the ultimate fix will require a bi-partisan approach.
Senate Democrats have urged Republicans to take repeal off the table, but Murray says her Republican colleagues remain committed to repealing what they call a collapsing law.
“I’ve worked a lot of bi-partisan deals, and the way you get a deal done is you both have the same goal," Murray said. "You want to fix the budget, you want to fix healthcare. We don’t have the same goals right now.”