partlycloudy
Sunday May 28th, 2017 2:42PM

GOP leader defends all-male senators' health bill group

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell fended off criticism Tuesday that a working group of Republican senators he's asked to craft a health care bill lacks women, saying all 52 GOP senators were shaping the legislation.

The all-male makeup of the 13-member group was clearly an irritant among some of the chamber's five GOP women. It also became a target for Democrats eager to paint the evolving Republican legislation as a measure that's damaging to women needing medical care, even as key decisions are being made by men.

"That's really up to the leadership," Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, the longest-serving female GOP senator in her 21st year in the chamber, said of the group's lack of women. "It seems to me they've already made their decision. The panel has apparently been meeting for some time, and I'm not a member of it."

Asked about the group, Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, said, "I just want to make sure we have some women on it."

"We know it makes a difference when women are in the room, and we know it makes a difference when women aren't in the room on what is brought up, how it's seen and how it's put together," said Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., the No. 3 Senate Democratic leader.

GOP efforts to repeal former President Barack Obama's health care law have shifted to the Senate, five days after Republicans pushed a version of the legislation through the House.

GOP senators have made clear they will likely make substantial changes in the House bill. Some have criticized that measure's cuts in the Medicaid program for poor and disabled people, the federal subsidies that would leave many consumers with higher out-of-pocket costs and the estimated 24 million people who'd lose coverage.

The 13 senators McConnell appointed to the informal group include himself and other party leaders and committee chairmen, conservative mavericks, lawmakers from states that expanded Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act and others.

Facing solid Democratic opposition and controlling the Senate 52-48, Republicans can lose only two GOP senators' votes but prevail with Vice President Mike Pence breaking a 50-50 tie. McConnell said all GOP senators are meeting daily and discussing the health care effort.

"The working group that counts is all 52 of us, and we're having extensive meetings" daily, said McConnell, R-Ky. "Nobody's being excluded based on gender."

Pressed by reporters, McConnell added, "You need to write about what's actually happening, and we're having extensive discussions about the real issues. Everybody's at the table."

White House spokesman Sean Spicer distanced the Trump administration from the group's membership.

"I think the more voices that we can put on a panel to help get this done, the better. So, to the extent — I'm not going to tell Leader McConnell or the White House is not going to tell him how to conduct a panel," Spicer said.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said the House bill "is so discriminatory against women." He cited a provision that could let insurers levy higher premiums on some people with pre-existing medical conditions, which in the past has included pregnancy.

"It's a very, very bad thing" to exclude women from the working group. "They're more than half the population."

One of the Senate's most moderate Republicans, Collins, 64, has at times been a problem for party leaders, such as opposing a cutoff of federal payments to Planned Parenthood. She's viewed as one who might vote against the GOP bill.

Collins is the 15th longest-serving current senator and hasn't missed a roll call vote since entering the chamber, a streak her office says reached 6,352 votes Tuesday.

Collins told reporters that GOP women senators "are not afraid to make their voices heard" and said she was not worried they would have no input. She said she's working with Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La., on an alternative health care overhaul and with other senators on how to revamp Medicaid.

She said she'd spent 15 minutes at Tuesday's Senate GOP lunch describing a high-risk pool Maine uses to help cover costs for people with serious diseases who are expensive to treat. She said to replicate Maine's program nationally would cost $15 billion yearly, "which I do not see in the House bill."

Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., said she was unconcerned about the panel's roster, saying, "Every senator has their say."

The working group met Tuesday and members said they discussed how to handle the House's plan to phase out the current law's expansion of Medicaid to more low earners.

Sen. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., who's criticized those Medicaid cuts, attended the private meeting, senators said. Her state is among the 31 that has accepted additional money to expand Medicaid.

___

Associated Press writers Mary Clare Jalonick, Darlene Superville and Matthew Daly contributed to this report.

  • Associated Categories: Associated Press (AP), AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Health, AP Business, AP Health - Men's Health
© Copyright 2017 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
GOP leader defends all-male senators' health bill group
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is fending off criticism that a working group of Republican senators he's asked to craft a health care bill lacks women
4:52PM ( 7 minutes ago )
Tunnel with nuclear waste collapses in Washington state
A portion of an underground tunnel containing rail cars full of radioactive waste collapsed at a sprawling storage facility in a remote area of Washington state
4:45PM ( 14 minutes ago )
US Appeals court holds crisis bailout of AIG lawful
Federal appeals court says government's bailout of AIG was lawful
4:45PM ( 15 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
Trump OKs arms for Syrian Kurds, despite Turkish objections
The Trump administration announces it will arm Syria's Kurdish fighters "as necessary" to recapture the key Islamic State stronghold of Raqqa, despite intense opposition from NATO ally Turkey
4:32PM ( 27 minutes ago )
Aaron Hernandez's murder conviction is tossed after suicide
A Massachusetts judge has erased a 2013 murder conviction against former NFL star Aaron Hernandez, ruling that case law has long established that defendants who die before their appeals are heard should have their convictions vacated
4:26PM ( 33 minutes ago )
Senate to vote on FDA head dogged by financial questions
The Senate is preparing to confirm Dr. Scott Gottlieb as the head of the Food and Drug Administration, where he has pledged to first tackle the opioid crisis
4:20PM ( 40 minutes ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Rep. Raul Labrador joins Idaho governor's race
U.S. Rep. Raul Labrador has joined the list of candidates running for Idaho governor in 2018 just days after a backlash over a comment about health care access
3:33PM ( 1 hour ago )
The Latest: McConnell defends all-male health overhaul group
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is defending a health care working group in the Senate that has no female members
3:15PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP source: Abedin didn't send as many emails as Comey said
A Senate panel says it has not been contacted by FBI Director James Comey to correct apparent misstatements in his testimony about emails he said a top aide to Hillary Clinton forwarded to her husband's laptop
3:07PM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Online Congress News
Study: Side effects emerge after approval for many US drugs
Almost one-third of new U.S. prescription drugs later get safety warnings about unexpected and sometimes serious side effects
12:15PM ( 4 hours ago )
Back on TV, Kimmel zings critics of his health care plea
Jimmy Kimmel zinged his critics as he returned to late-night TV and resumed arguing that all Americans deserve the level of health care given his infant son
9:04AM ( 7 hours ago )
Pirates pitcher Taillon has suspected testicular cancer
Pittsburgh Pirates pitcher Jameson Taillon underwent surgery Monday morning for suspected testicular cancer
7:06PM ( 21 hours ago )
AP Health
Union pilots say they'll help restore Spirit operations
A pilots union is denying that it refused to fly to influence contract negotiations with Spirit Airlines, but says it will obey a judge's temporary restraining order to not engage in any boycotts or slowdown.
4:24PM ( 36 minutes ago )
Amtrak engineer won't be charged in deadly crash
Philadelphia prosecutors say the speeding Amtrak engineer involved in a derailment that killed eight people and injured about 200 others won't be charged because they can't prove he acted with "conscious disregard"
4:22PM ( 38 minutes ago )
Fox harassment claims create clouds around Sky takeover bid
A U.K. scandal torpedoed Rupert Murdoch's first attempt to take control of Britain's Sky TV
4:17PM ( 43 minutes ago )
AP Business
Prostate cancer tests are now OK with US panel, with caveats
An influential U.S. government advisory panel is dropping its opposition to routine prostate cancer screening in favor of letting men decide for themselves after talking with their doctor
11:46AM ( 4 weeks ago )
Prostate cancer tests are now OK with panel, with caveats
An influential U.S. government health panel is dropping its opposition to routine prostate cancer screening in favor of letting men decide for themselves after talking with their doctor
6:13AM ( 4 weeks ago )
Arizona man awarded $2.5M in medical lawsuit vs VA hospital
An Arizona man was awarded $2.5 million in his lawsuit saying that his now-terminal cancer would have been curable had the Veterans Administration hospital in Phoenix diagnosed it sooner
6:31PM ( 2 months ago )
AP Health - Men's Health
Tunnel with nuclear waste collapses in Washington state
A portion of an underground tunnel containing rail cars full of radioactive waste collapsed at a sprawling storage facility in a remote area of Washington state
4:45PM ( 14 minutes ago )
US Appeals court holds crisis bailout of AIG lawful
Federal appeals court says government's bailout of AIG was lawful
4:45PM ( 15 minutes ago )
Syrian troops shift focus to IS-held east
Syria's military has launched a new assault aiming to reassert its authority in the east of the country, battling U.S.-backed opposition fighters in the remote deserts near the borders with Iraq and Jordan
4:38PM ( 22 minutes ago )
Harsher sentences could result from guidance weighed by US
Justice Department officials are reviewing new guidance that would encourage prosecutors to charge suspects with the highest offenses they can prove
4:38PM ( 22 minutes ago )
Trump preparing certified letter attesting to no Russia ties
White House: Trump is sending a certified to Sen. Lindsey Graham attesting that the president has no connections to Russia
4:35PM ( 24 minutes ago )