Meeting in RI, Dem governors attack latest GOP health care bill

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards and other Democratic governors. (photo: Ted Nesi/WPRI)

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (WPRI) – Gov. Gina Raimondo and her fellow Democratic governors assailed the latest Republican health care bill on Friday, arguing it would harm residents of their states by reducing federal Medicaid funding.

“This would be disastrous fiscally for Rhode Island,” Raimondo said, adding that her concerns are shared by many governors in both parties. “It’s on everyone’s mind,” she said. “It’s what’s in every private conversation.”

Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy, currently leader of the Democratic Governors Association, argued Republican candidates for governor around the country are ducking the issue and should be pressed on whether they support the GOP health bill or not.

“There are a bunch of folks who I think are quietly praying that this doesn’t happen,” Malloy said.

Raimondo and the other governors spoke Friday morning at a news conference organized by the Democratic Governors Association during the summer meeting of the National Governors Association, which is being held in Rhode Island this year and has attracted more than 30 governors to the state.

Republicans in Washington have been wrestling for months with how to fulfill their promise to repeal and replace Obama’s health law. The House narrowly passed a bill earlier this year, and U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell on Thursday unveiled the latest iteration of the legislation, which would significantly reduce future Medicaid funding compared with current law.

“As before, it aims to stabilize and reform the collapsing insurance markets that have left too many with no options under Obamacare, and it aims to make insurance more affordable and more flexible so it’s something Americans actually want to buy,” McConnell said.

“I’m sure we can expect many of the same tired and predictable attacks from the defenders of Obamacare’s failed status quo,” he added. “It hardly matters what the draft says, they would launch the same kinds of attacks anyway.”

Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards, a Democrat, noted at the DGA news conference his state was the most recent to expand Medicaid under the Obama health law, but said he would have to reverse that decision if the new bill passes and reduces federal matching funds.

“I hope and pray that what’s in the Senate today is an absolute nonstarter,” he said.

Malloy argued the concern about the health bill among governors is bipartisan, citing comments made by Republican Govs. Charlie Baker of Massachusetts, Brian Sandoval of Nevada and John Kasich of Ohio.

“It’s not just us standing here,” Malloy said. “It’s blue states, it’s red states.”

Ted Nesi (tnesi@wpri.com) covers politics and the economy for WPRI.com. He writes Nesi’s Notes on Saturdays and hosts Executive Suite. Follow him on Twitter and Facebook