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Tester Urges A Replacement Be In Place Before Obamacare is Repealed

Jackie Yamanaka

U.S. Senator Jon Tester said repeal of the federal Affordable Care Act appears imminent.

Tester was invited to speak today before the Montana House of Representatives. Tester said there’s an incredible opportunity to find a bipartisan solution that can make healthcare affordable for middle class families.

“I want to be clear. I know premiums are rising,” he said. “We cannot settle for any situation where middle class families cannot afford health insurance. I know that.”

But he said repealing the ACA without a plan for what comes next won’t lower costs and threatens to throw the system into chaos.

After his speech, The Democrat said Montanans deserve a better system in actuality, not just words.

“We’re really good at throwing around catch phrases in Washington, D.C.,” He said. “The truth is people’s healthcare is too important for a catch phrase. We need to make sure any program that’s put up increases accessibility, increases affordability.”

Tester said the ACA was a good start in fixing problems like people being denied coverage because of a pre-existing condition or getting kicked out because they got sick.

“The whole idea behind the ACA was to try to fix those problems,” he said. “It fixed many of those problems. Certainly, didn’t fix them all. And we need to work together to fix the problems that currently exist. I think that’s the way forward not only in Montana but throughout the country.”

The former president of the Montana Senate added he wants assurances that any replacement won’t hurt rural community hospitals and providers.

“Why? Because I live in a town of 600 people,” Tester still farms in Big Sandy. “That little medical center there was built about 50 years after the homesteaders came to the area where I farm. If we do things in Washington D.C. that cause that healthcare center to close up we’ll have not do the right thing. And once closed its doubtful that it’ll ever come back.”

The ACA also allowed states to expand Medicaid to those to the working poor who earned too much income to qualify for traditional Medicaid but not enough to buy their own private insurance.

Tester said if Congress repeals the ACA, it could rip away that new coverage from some 60,000 Montanans.

He said he wants to see if Congress can come up with a better system and if it works, then he’ll probably support it.