Republican Senator Joni Ernst is willing to bring Democrats into the negotiations on health care, although Ernst concedes many of her GOP colleagues are opposed to it.
“I think you’d lose a lot of support from the Republican Conference because they really want their ideas addressed before they move on to, maybe, the Democratic Conference, but I want to find a way forward,” Ernst said today. “…If that means, you know, visiting with other members, that’s okay. I think you saw a lot of support here for working across the aisle.”
Ernst held a town hall meeting in Harlan this morning and spoke with reporters afterwards. Other Republicans have criticized Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell for suggesting it may be necessary to strike a bipartisan deal with Democrats since Republicans on their own haven’t agreed on a plan to repeal and replace the health care law. Ernst said if working with Democrats is what McConnell decides is necessary, she won’t criticize.
“We have to find a solution,” Ernst told reporters in Harlan today. “We know the path we’re on is unsustainable.”
Ernst said the Affordable Care Act has created a “monopoly” in Iowa because there’s just one insurance company left for Iowans who qualify for federal subsidies and shop the so-called “exchange” to get a policy. Ernst took a number of questions about health care from people at this morning’s town hall in Harlan. Some expressed concerns about losing their insurance because of a pre-existing condition. Others complained the GOP’s plan to get rid of minimal coverage requirements for insurance policies will dramatically escalate out-of-pocket expenses. Ernst says she’s not sure what will wind up in the final plan.
“I remain optimistic that we will find a way forward,” Ernst said.
Ernst is offering her own amendments to the senators are who writing the GOP’s plan, but she’s not ready to publicly reveal those ideas yet.