If repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act were a hole of golf, U.S. Rep. Andy Barr said Congress would be on the back-swing of its mulligan shot.
“Of course, I’m not a very good golfer and sometimes my mulligans go into the woods even deeper than my initial shot,” Barr, R-Lexington, said Wednesday at Commerce Lexington’s Public Policy Luncheon. “But a lot of times mulligans, because you’ve got a little practice under your belt, it’s a straight drive down the fairway.”
Barr says he’s cautiously optimistic about the future of the bill, but the tone in Washington seems to suggest the bill is more likely to end up in the sand trap.
Barr is a part of a group searching for a solution that can appease all factions of the Republican caucus in the House of Representatives. The problem has been getting anyone to compromise.
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“I think all sides want the same thing, we’re all pushing for the same thing,” Barr said. “Nobody wants anyone who has a pre-existing condition to not be able to access health insurance, but we also want to bend the cost curve down.”
Last week, conservatives apparently were willing to go along with a bill that would allow states to opt out of provisions that protect people with pre-existing conditions. But allowing states to opt out alienated moderates and has left Republicans again blaming one another for the bill’s failure.
Barr, on the other hand, said he is a firm believer in the bill as it was originally written, particularly because it would reduce the growth of Medicaid, the federal health plan for disabled and low-income individuals.
“If we can make Medicaid more sustainable that will do more for getting us on the trajectory of a balanced budget than some of these cuts to discretionary spending that have been proposed,” Barr said.
The proposal would save the government $337 billion through 2026, according to the Congressional Budget Office.
Barr’s support of the proposed health care law, though, has opened him up to criticism. Democratic activists motivated by the election of President Donald Trump have been swarming his public appearances in recent weeks, and about 35 gathered in Triangle Park Wednesday to protest his speech to Commerce Lexington.
“Insofar that Barr supports the Trump agenda, we’re concerned about that,” said Jane Eller, 70, who is part of the group Indivisible Bluegrass, a local branch of a national liberal protest movement that is attempting to use the tactics of the Tea Party movement.
Democrats have been particularly critical of Republican attempts to replace Obamacare, citing the same CBO report that says the bill would increase the number of people without health insurance by 24 million by 2026.
Barr has not been swayed by the protesters, doubling down Wednesday on several portions of the health care bill that Democrats oppose.
“I think everyone understands that we need to be in the business of keeping our promises,” Barr said. “Republicans, myself included, campaigned for six years on repealing and replacing Obamacare and it’s time for us to deliver.”