Georgia’s senators diverge on health care as Congress hits juncture

Georgia U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson, left, and David Perdue, right, at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee hearing in June 2015. Senate Photography Office

WASHINGTON — After spending nearly a year focused on a single policy goal — repealing and replacing Obamacare — congressional Republicans have hit a critical juncture. They don’t have the votes right now to kill the 2010 health care law, so do they undermine it and risk taking the blame for higher premiums or try to stabilize the system but anger their base?

The question is a central one now that President Donald Trump kicked the health care ball back into Congress’ court when he ended special payments to insurers known as cost-share reductions.

What to do next appears to be dividing Georgia’s two Republican senators.

Both Johnny Isakson and David Perdue loathe the Affordable Care Act and have been vocal about their distaste for years. They voted for all of the Senate GOP’s proposals to scrap the law this summer. They also both indicated after that repeal effort collapsed that they would at least be open to the idea of working with Democrats on some sort of compromise.

But at first blush it appears the two are divided on the bipartisan plan that emerged on Thursday to stabilize the Obamacare market.

The deal, negotiated by Republican Lamar Alexander and Democrat Patty Murray, would guarantee two years of those cost-share reduction payments, under which the federal government reimburses insurance companies for providing coverage to poor people at subsidized rates, in exchange for giving states more flexibility regarding the kinds of coverage they could offer on their Obamacare exchanges.

In other words, the Alexander-Murray deal seeks to stabilize the Affordable Care Act — not kill it.

Isakson signed onto the deal as an original cosponsor. He called it a “good first step toward giving states greater flexibility and helping to avert unaffordable premium increases.”

“This agreement does not address every problem, and much more needs to be done to help Georgians who have been hurt by Obamacare, but we cannot and should not make perfect the enemy of the good when millions of families are about to face little or no access to affordable health care,” he said.

Perdue’s reception was chillier. He was not among the 12 Republicans to back the compromise right out of the gate and has avoided weighing in publicly. In a statement to Insider on Friday, his spokesperson didn’t close the door to supporting the plan later but also didn’t offer any plaudits:

“The reality is Obamacare is a failed law and continues to collapse,” the spokesperson said. “Costs are high and policy choices are limited in Georgia. Senator Perdue is still committed to repealing Obamacare and putting in place free market solutions that drive up competition and drive down prices.”

Trump himself has sent mixed signals about the agreement. He previously called the cost-share subsidies a “bailout” of insurers.

Read more: Georgia customers scramble after Trump stops Obamacare subsidies

Reader Comments 0

18 comments
jeneferjef
jeneferjef

 Perdue’s reception was chillier. He was not among the 12 Republicans to back the compromise right out of the gate and has avoided weighing in publicly.  http://www.raisedaily.com   

HowdyJune
HowdyJune

My brother-in-law just passed away due to complications from Parkinson's Disease.  It is a very terrible disease and I truly wish Senator Isakson the very best in his fight.  I wonder how many others have this awful disease, Senators, but don't have the healthcare insurance you have.  What would you say to them?

Mia Lady
Mia Lady

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TheCentrist
TheCentrist

David and Johnny are pathetic. After 8-years of complaining, they voted for every piece of crappy legislation with out regard to any semblance of stabilizing insurance or addressing the cost of healthcare delivery.

Mr Peabody
Mr Peabody

They serve the wealthy only and have no honor.

GraceD
GraceD

I am glad to see Isakson show some interest in his constitutents & their lack of healthcare! But, I would simply say, he is "too little, too late" -- - 

Lets see some actions that get healthcare for all!

RoadScholar
RoadScholar

It's "collapsing" because of your hatred of President Obama and not doing your job of fixing it. What initial piece of legislation passed never needs a "correction" ? Constant sabotage by the Repubs is also the cause of the alleged "collapse". Maybe you need to be replaced by someone who will help the American public, not just the rich.

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COL1HYATT
COL1HYATT

Get rid of both these senile ah's. Tired of repukes not doing their jobs!

Another comment
Another comment

It is a shame Stacey Abrams doesn't drop out of the Govenor's race, so we have a chance to elect the Moderate Stacey who will work for everyone in the General.

We need to one by one start picking off these Republicans who don't work for their constituents.

Eustis
Eustis

Ask them for a plan that is "Better, Cheaper, and Everyone covered". That's what Trump promised.

bendedknee
bendedknee

Perdue  would jump off the bridge if Trump told him to do so.

HELLNOMARTA
HELLNOMARTA

The two dishonorable senators from Georgia have proven time and again they don't care about Georgians or Americans. How much longer will we tolerate them?

JGoldbaugh
JGoldbaugh

Until the next election. Anybody foolish enough to vote for Perdue can likely be found with his/her nose snuggled in Trump’s butt crack.