Sen. Tom Cotton says House moved too fast on health care efforts

WASHINGTON -- Sen. Tom Cotton, R- Arkansas, believes “the House moved a bit too fast” on efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare. 

“To release a bill that was written in secret and then expect to pass it in 18 days I just don’t think was feasible,” Cotton said Sunday on CBS’ “Face the Nation.”

Cotton, a vocal opponent of the American Healthcare Act, believes both conservative and moderate members of the House made concessions in trying to “get to yes” on health care reform. 

“I have friends like Jim Jordan in the Freedom Caucus and Charlie Dent in the Tuesday group,” Cotton said. “I know they’re both good men. I know they want to work together. I know they want to try to find a solution that both they and everyone in between can agree on.” 

It’s a solution Cotton says he believes is attainable over time. 

“Eighteen days is simply not enough time for such major, landmark legislation,” he said.

Recollecting the passage of Obamacare, Cotton described the long-term efforts made by Democrats to pursue a national system of health care. 

“They didn’t pass it for over a year in President Barack Obama’s first term. So it went through very public hearings, and took testimony, developed a fact-based foundation of knowledge,” Cotton said. “President Obama traveled around the country, held town halls, spoke to a joint session of Congress.” 

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Sen. Tom Cotton.

"Face the Nation"

Addressing concerns raised by frustrated town hall attendees, the senator conceded that some in his state were helped by Obamacare. “There’s no doubt about that,” Cotton said. “But many more were hurt by it.”

Defending President Trump’s intent to let Obamacare “explode and collapse,” Cotton said he felt the president is simply stating a fact. 

“Obamacare continues to get worse,” Cotton said. “Premiums continue to go up every year when you get to a new open enrollment season,” he added, noting that some counties in the U.S. have only one insurance provider.

The senator said that while Republicans may not need fourteen months to pass health care reform like Democrats in 2009, they should deploy a more “careful and deliberate approach.” Those changes to the country’s health care system, the senator added, are inevitable. 

“We don’t have a choice to visit it or revisit it. We have to revisit it,” he said. 

Cotton suggested that in the meantime, the administration take action to tweak the current health care system while Congress mulls future long-term restructuring.

“Secretary of Health and Human Services Tom Price can undertake regulations designed to lift some of the worst harms of Obamacare and try to give some people relief,” he said. 

In the months to come, the former Arkansan House member remains optimistic Congress may reach an agreement on continued funding of the Children’s Health Insurance Program. 

“By that point, I hope that we can reach some kind of consensus where we can try to do away with the worst problems of Obamacare that can only be addressed by legislation,” he said.