Opinion: David Perdue on getting a bipartisan health-reform deal

The flame-out of Republicans’ first attempt at repealing and replacing Obamacare has left Congress in something of a holding pattern. The White House and congressional leaders have signaled a desire to move on to other issues such as tax reform, while insisting health-reform negotiations are still alive.

But it’s clear health reform needs to get moving soon if it’s to move at all this year. How much time is left?

“I’d say a month,” is how Georgia’s junior senator, David Perdue, put it.

Sen. David Perdue (AJC Photo / Hyosub Shin)

Perdue was in Atlanta last week, visiting the site of the I-85 collapse among other stops. He has said the GOP will have to reach out to Democrats if it’s to get anywhere on health reform. But with Senate Democrats apparently digging in against Donald Trump’s entire agenda, including health reform, after several years of Republicans taking a similar approach to Barack Obama, I asked him why should anyone believe that’s possible.

“My hope is there will be some Democrats that will be willing to enter into a real good-faith conversation about getting something done on health care,” Perdue told me Wednesday in his downtown office. But, he added, “Republicans, we’ve got a thing to do here, too, and this is the part I’m espousing.

“I lived in Asia. This thing called ‘face’ is very important around the world. And I think this is not a time for us to (cast) blame about Obamacare. Obamacare is failing. Even Democrats acknowledge it’s got to get fixed. Well I don’t care what word you put on it. People back home want health care to work for them. Why don’t we just get together – whether it’s ‘repeal and replace,’ or ‘repeal and fix,’ or ‘let’s just fix it.’ That’s all people want.”

OK, but setting aside what the effort is called, where might we find the substance for it?

“First of all it’s states,” he said. “You’ve got the states that expanded Medicaid … and then those like Georgia that did not. There are Democratic states (that did not expand). So you’ve got situations where we just want the states treated fairly, with parity, and … the first proposal that came out, they really weren’t. So we pushed on that.”

A quick internet search reveals four Democratic senators (Bill Nelson of Florida, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Tim Kaine of Virginia and Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin) and an independent (Angus King of Maine) who are up for re-election next year in states that didn’t expand Medicaid. Seven other Democrats are up in 2018 in states Trump won. Perhaps some combination of these would join a Parity Caucus.

What else? Perdue continued: “I think this idea of the tax credits that are used to help pay for low-income patients, there is common ground there with Democrats about where that level ought to be. Quite frankly, I disagreed with the House’s version of the (qualifying income) level. It was much too high. A couple making a couple hundred thousand (dollars) a year don’t really need a tax credit.

“So there are things like that that we’ve had behind-the-scenes conversations about, that are encouraging, that we could find some common ground here. If – if – a few Democrats will pull away from the mainstream (Democratic) strategy.”

Now, back to the original question: What are the chances of that happening?

“I’m hopeful,” he said. “I’m not optimistic, but I’m hopeful. Because if we’re ever going to break this gridlock, this is a good one to do it. This is an important, emotional issue for people. Health care is a real, base-level need, and people are very interested. They’ve got to have a system that works for them.”​

Reader Comments 0

79 comments
Billisnice
Billisnice

Trumpcare will destroy out healthcare. All the bad stuff will filter down to work healthcare.

BuckeyeGa
BuckeyeGa

I don't see the Dems helping the hole the Republi cans have dug for themselves. The Republicans control the House. They shouldnt need the Democrats help.

breckenridge
breckenridge

In the 9th inning of yesterday's Braves broadcast Fox Sports ran a little blurb on 1st base coach Eddie Perez, about what a nice guy he is and so forth.  Right after it finished, Braves commentator Joe Simpson said, "And is he an American citizen? You bet."


That was a really nice way of telling Trump to go screw himself.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@breckenridge

You've got quite the anti-American attitude.

We are nation of laws and can only survive by obedience to those laws.

The past two administrations have ignored enforcement of immigration law.

Trump comes along, enforces the law per voter wishes, and malcontents complain.

You been a problem your whole life or is this a recent thing?

Starik
Starik

@JohnnyReb @breckenridge The vast majority of our "undocumented." "illegals" or whatever you want to call them contribute to our workforce and the country. Why spend resources on persecuting them?

scooderpup
scooderpup

We've spent a trillion dollars on the war on drugs and that has failed too. We seem to lack the ability to learn new things and abandon failures. Look at our nuclear power plant that is billions in overruns and will probably never work, while we have farmland that could be used for solar power. We keep,throwing tax money on an old technology. Embracing the past will not move us forward.

AndyManUSA#45
AndyManUSA#45

 Sleep thoughts for Andy...

https://fivethirtyeight.com/features/handicapping-the-georgia-6-special-election/


"If the polls are right,"


LOL


"then Democrat Jon Ossoff will receive by far the most votes in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District, which is holding a special election to replace former U.S. Rep. Tom Price on Tuesday.1 "


Yes, homeys, there is one democrat and seventeen Republicans, so be proud of the one democrat getting all the democrat votes, I know how few and far between "victories" are for you these days.


"But Ossoff will probably finish with less than 50 percent of the vote"


Which means he will get trounced in the next election.


Deal with it. 

JFMcNamara
JFMcNamara

Sounds like he wants Obamacare expanded to all states.  


Also, I don't really want Democrats to help unless it is them giving us exactly what we want.  Where were they when we needed them?  They need to pay a price for their unnecessary intransigence. 

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@JFMcNamara


"I don't really want Democrats to help unless it is them giving us exactly what we want"


Oh dear. Difference between governing and opposition. Paul Ryan learn the hard way.

breckenridge
breckenridge

Well a big problem with getting a better healthcare bill that has bipartisan support is the Tea Party caucus, which is also goes by the completely bogus moniker Freedom caucus.  They have no interest in legislating regardless of who is the president, their only goal is obstruction.  Most are also social conservatives, and every single social conservative in America is a servant of Satan.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@breckenridge

My, my it must be difficult to be wrong most of the time.

And, just a wild guess but there is apparent gay support in your continuing theme of social conservatism.

breckenridge
breckenridge

@JohnnyReb @breckenridge 

Fact: social conservative filth destroyed the republican party.

Fact: the vast majority of social conservatives are southerners.

Fact: the great armies of the north should have done a much better job of taking out the trash.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

Bookman seems to think there is something miraculous happening in the 6th District.

Jason Carter and Michele Nunn say, "what?"

And never mind there is one Dem candidate but a dozen or more dividing the Repub vote.

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@JohnnyReb


Lets assume the impossible and imagine that Ossoff did win the 6th seat. You think that would change Trump agenda? His demeanor? Republican party in general?

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@McGarnagle @JohnnyReb

Nope, nope and nope.

My point is Ossoff could get the most votes but not enough to avoid a runoff.

His most votes will come from the Repub votes being split by 12 candidates.

Then a Repub will win the runoff.

However, Bookman and MSM are trying to use the scenario to convince people of a change in electorate due to Trump opposition.

Just like Carter and Nunn were to change the state to Blue.

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@JohnnyReb @McGarnagle


Seems like you don't even want to consider the scenario of Ossoff winning. Nevertheless, this special election should not be this close.

Finn-McCool
Finn-McCool

@JohnnyReb @McGarnagle Johnny Reb can't see the forest for the trees. An Ossoff win now would mean Republicans would win the seat back in 2018 (no matter how much Trump breaks America).

If Republicans win it now, they will be more likely to sit back and coast into 2018.

SGTGrit
SGTGrit

The Democrat far-left Obamanites say that Obamacare needs fixing. It needs fixing because it flat out isn't working. The Democrats only want to preserve Obama's unearned healthcare legacy and they will obstruct solely for that purpose. They like to say that more people are now insured and the ACA law should remain in place. What they won't admit is the fact that more people may have healthcare insurance but they can't afford to use it. Medicaid is third rate insurance and more and more providers our no longer taking it. Unraveling this mess will take time and attempting to fix it would be like fixing faulty plumbing or bad software you fix one defect and suddenly you have more to contend with. Obamacare needs to be repealed and replaced. Obama doesn't deserve any honorable recognition for the mess he and the Democrats created.

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@SGTGrit


"Obamacare needs to repealed and replaced."


What do you think they have been trying todo this whole time. I wouldn't hold my breath. 

MarkVV
MarkVV

@SGTGrit Funny, how the critics of Obamacare know all that is wrong with it, and still the Republicans in Congress cannot find a better plan.

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

Too bad Perdue didn't have this "let's just fix it" mentality during Obama presidency. But now that Trump is in charge, republicans want to act like grown-ups.


Whats going to bring democrats to the table? Tell the freedom caucus to get lost.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@McGarnagle

Of course you LibProgs don't like the Freedom Caucus.

There have been news reports of doing something to make the Dems want to work on the bill, and Trump has mentioned it with less than flattering terms toward the Freedom Caucus.

It would however be a huge political mistake if Trump continues that theme and certainly if the goals of the Freedom Caucus are ignored.

The Freedom Caucus or at least its roots, the Tea Party is the reason Trump is in office and ignoring them would be political suicide for both Trump and the Repub Party.

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@JohnnyReb @McGarnagle


I am not a Trump fan by any means. But one consequence to him is that he has no political ideology he holds firm. He wants to be perceived as being a winner and making deals.


He doesn't give a hoot about the freedom caucus. And if he can meet democrats in the middle. Then deal baby deal.

DeepStateDawg
DeepStateDawg

Hey Kyle!


So I actually read this one, get this..., IN PRINT! Yep. That's right. Read it in my Sunday Paper. 


Much jumps out here, including the good Senator's apparent interest in negotiating.  


But at the end of the day, the GOP's eight year crusade to essentially block all things Obama, regardless of merit, is still the overriding theme here. There are plenty of examples, but Obamacare is the best. There was never really a debate on the matter. It was just pure hatred of Obama (the man) that drove the GOP. McConnell said that repeatedly in no uncertain terms. 


And now, here we are, in a mess. 


I really don't see a reason why the Democrats would lift a finger. 

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@DeepStateDawg

You people continue to amaze with the ridiculous theme that Republican opposition was due to hatred of Obama the man.

No, it was that Obama is the personification of policies which the Right diametrically opposes.

As I posted earlier here, all it would take is passing the Freedom Caucus bill which phases out ACA over two years to get the Dems to cooperate.

The Dems would cooperate when faced with nothing after two years if they did not.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@DeepStateDawg @JohnnyReb

Many push the narrative from the perspective the opposition was due to Obama being black.

While I agree there was some of that, his skin color was not the issue.

It was his goals/policies.

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@JohnnyReb @DeepStateDawg


I will add though that as bad as Obama was treated. Hillary Clinton got the worse of the worse. She didn't deserve lock her up chants. Just a  trick to drum the base. She is way more conservative then Obama yet she got shredded to bits.

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@McGarnagle @JohnnyReb @DeepStateDawg

IMO if there was a poll today it would show a majority of the Right still think Hillary committed acts that should get her prosecuted.

She skated on offenses more severe than others who were indicted and in some cases went to jail.

DeepStateDawg
DeepStateDawg

@JohnnyReb @DeepStateDawg


The GOP's efforts to obstruct and undermine Obama at every turn are well documented. 


Highlights include Mitch telling America that the GOP's #1 priority was making Obama a one term president, and after that failed, telling Obama to his face that he was not going to fill that Supreme Court vacancy, no matter what. 


Of course, no sense going into it too much. Nobody's mind is going to change on this particular topic, what with all the fake news and such. 

MarkVV
MarkVV

Senator Perdue: “…or, ‘let’s just fix it”

WOW! Wonders never cease. Considering that the “it” in the above is Obamacare, is there a more grievous sin for a Republican senator than to consider a healthcare alternative that does not include repealing Obamacare, and thus a position in principle identical to that of the Democrats, who generally admit that ACA needs fixing, but reject a repeal?

Perhaps the town hall meetings, in which the voters expressed their outrage at the Republican proposal, have beginning to sink in. And considering all the other Trump’s lies and reversals of the campaign positions, it is not outside the realm of possibility that the President would actually adopt a course of action that would represent a severe defeat of the “Freedom Caucus as an act of  vengeance.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

 There are Democratic states (that did not expand).


And Republican ones who did. 

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

 Almost half of wage earners pay zero federal income tax.


No this old BS again ?


Are you talking about Trump ? This is the big reason he wont release his returns


He doesn't pay taxes. Remember during the campaign. 


Paying taxes was for suckers. He is smart !!!!

JohnnyReb
JohnnyReb

@Hedley_Lammar

You might want to consider coming back later after you have awakened and can tell the difference between a person not scheduled to pay federal tax vs someone who minimizes what they have to pay.

Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@JohnnyReb @Hedley_Lammar Minimized as in pays nothing.


Meanwhile the poor get hit with all sorts of fees and taxes people of means can shrug off.


But to them it might be the difference in eating that day or not. 


Hedley_Lammar
Hedley_Lammar

@JohnnyReb @Hedley_Lammar Yes it is.


You are living in Trumps America.


Where there was a massacre at Bowling Greene, millions of illegals voted, and Trumps inauguration was the biggest in history. 


We cant compromise when the other party is living in a fantasy world. 

McGarnagle
McGarnagle

@Pub Heaven


Still tough race for Ossoff. He needs 50%. And if he doesn't he would need to bring some republican votes for run-off. Still close though