Jack Crowe on June 1, 2017
Republican Sen. Jeff Flake warned Arizona business owners that the GOP plan to remake Obamacare will be a long time in the making.
“There are some still saying that we’ll vote before the August break. I have a hard time believing that,” he told about 150 members of the Glendale Chamber of Commerce this week, according to the Washington Post.
Flake told a hospital worker, “We’re trying to find that balance, and we aren’t close yet, frankly” on how to save the Medicaid program.
Flake’s pessimism contradicts the narrative of GOP congressional leaders who have remained hopeful about the Senate’s ability to draft and vote on new health care legislation by August, according to the Hill.
Republican Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn was even more optimistic, telling radio host Chad Hasty Wednesday that healthcare will be “done by the end of July at the latest.”
“We do need to take care of our business and, I think you mentioned healthcare and that’s certainly front and center in the United States Senate – something we’re going to have to get resolved here in the next few weeks,” Cornyn said. “I don’t think we have any choice.”
Flake’s decision to break rank is unsurprising considering his record of refusing to endorse President Trump during last year’s election. Flake acknowledged that his stance on the GOP’s prospects for revamping the health care system could be politically costly.
“If I wanted an easier path through the primary, then I would line up more with where the president is,” he told the Washington Post. “But I think if you’re an elected official, you’ve got to do what you know what’s right. It’ll be a tougher path than I could have had, would have had, but I think I’ll get there.”
Flake wants to drive down health care costs for consumers but he’s concerned about the approximately 25 percent of Arizona’s population that receives coverage through medicare, as their costs could increase dramatically if President Trump’s $1.4 trillion cut to federal health care spending is approved.
Known as a fiscal conservative, Flake supports cuts to federal entitlements programs but only if the programs remain “sustainable” so that Arizona’s most vulnerable citizens “don’t have the rug pulled out from under them.”