Kansas’ Sen. Moran, target of protests, comes out against GOP health care bill

photo by: Associated Press

In this March 8, 2016, file photo, Sen. Jerry Moran, R-Kan., asks a question on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

Republican U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran of Kansas said Tuesday that he opposes a GOP bill that would have repealed and replaced much of the federal health care law commonly known as Obamacare.

“The Senate healthcare bill missed the mark for Kansans and therefore did not have my support,” Moran said in a statement shortly after GOP leaders delayed a vote on the bill that had been expected later this week.

“I am pleased with the decision to delay the vote — now is the time to take a step back and put the full legislative process to work,” Moran’s statement read. “I remain committed to working with my colleagues and continuing conversations with patients and providers in Kansas to find a path forward that truly repeals and replaces Obamacare with a plan that makes certain Kansans will have access to more affordable and better quality healthcare.”

Moran had come under intense pressure since the contents of the Senate bill were released last week. Kansas’ other Senator, fellow-Republican Pat Roberts, had said last week that he would vote for the bill in order to move the process forward, but Moran had said he wanted to study the bill further before making a commitment.

Roberts’ office did not immediately issue a statement after the vote delay was announced.

GOP defections increased after Congress’ budget referee said Monday the measure would leave 22 million more people uninsured by 2026 than Obama’s 2010 statute.

The budget office report said the Senate bill’s coverage losses would especially affect people between ages 50 and 64, before they qualify for Medicare, and with incomes below 200 percent of the poverty level, or around $30,300 for an individual.

The Senate plan would end the tax penalty the law imposes on people who don’t buy insurance, in effect erasing Obama’s so-called individual mandate, and on larger businesses that don’t offer coverage to workers.

It would let states ease Obama’s requirements that insurers cover certain specified services like substance abuse treatments. It also would eliminate $700 billion worth of taxes over a decade, largely on wealthier people and medical companies — money that Obama’s law used to expand coverage.

It would cut Medicaid, which provides health insurance to over 70 million poor and disabled people, by $772 billion through 2026 by capping its overall spending and phasing out Obama’s expansion of the program. Of the 22 million people losing health coverage, 15 million would be Medicaid recipients.

Congress’ budget office said that average premiums around the country would be higher over the next two years — including about 20 percent higher in 2018 than under Obama’s statute — but lower beginning in 2020.

On Tuesday, the activist disability rights organization Kansas ADAPT had announced its members would be protesting outside Moran’s district offices in Pittsburg, Wichita and Hays. That group said the Senate bill’s proposed caps on Medicaid spending threatened services for the disabled.

“This is the biggest direct threat to independent living for older Kansans and Kansans with disabilities that I’ve seen in my lifetime,” organizer Ami Hyten said in a news release.

— The Associated Press contributed to this report.