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UPDATE: After Opposing Replacement, Sen. Moran Says He Supports Full Obamacare Repeal Effort

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Jim McLean
/
Kansas News Service/File photo

Updated at 12:30 p.m. Tuesday

U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran says he would support an effort in the Senate to fully repeal the Affordable Care Act now and work on a replacement later.

In a statement Tuesday, the Republican junior senator says he supports "the [P]resident's efforts to repeal Obamacare."

"I will vote in favor of the motion to proceed," Moran says. "This should be followed by an open legislative process to craft healthcare policy that will provide greater personal choice, protections for pre-existing conditions, increased access and lower overall costs for Kansans."

Moran's statement comes a day after he and Sen. Mike Lee, a fellow Republican from Utah, announced their opposition to the Senate's Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), the latest attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare.

In a statement also issued on social media, Moran said while he remained committed to repealing Obamacare, Congress needs to make a “fresh start” on writing a replacement bill and do it in an “open legislative process.”

“This closed-door process has yielded the BCRA [Better Care Reconciliation Act], which fails to repeal the Affordable Care Act or address healthcare’s rising costs,” Moran said. “For the same reasons I could not support the previous version of this bill, I cannot support this one.”

“We should not put our stamp of approval on bad policy,” he said.

More from NPR on Republicans' opposition to the Senate health care bill

At town hall meetings over Congress’ July 4 break, Moran said he was concerned the bill wouldn’t lower overall consumer costs or provide adequate protection for those with pre-existing conditions. He also expressed concerns that deep cuts in Medicaid over the next decade could threaten the survival of already struggling rural hospitals and nursing homes.

“I am a product of rural Kansas,” Moran said July 6 to an overflow crowd in Palco, a small town north of Hays. “I understand the value of a hospital in your community, of a physician in your town, of a pharmacy on Main Street.”

Moran’s renewed stand against the bill drew immediate praise Monday from Kansas groups that have spent the past several weeks urging him to maintain his opposition to it.

“Senator Moran's leadership will protect 120,000 Kansans from losing coverage and protect providers from devastating Medicaid cuts,” said David Jordan, director of the advocacy group Alliance for a Healthy Kansas.

“Kansans spoke out and Jerry Moran listened,” Hilary Gee, a Kansas lobbyist for the American Cancer Society’s Cancer Action Network, tweeted in reaction to the news.

U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement late Monday the defections of Moran and Lee effectively killed the bill.

"Regretfully, it is now apparent that the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare will not be successful," McConnell said.

The Senate may now take up a straight repeal bill, McConnell said, one that repeals the ACA immediately but gives Congress two years to fashion a replacement.

Jim McLean is managing director of KMUW's Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KMUW, Kansas Public Radio and KCUR covering health, education and politics in Kansas. Follow him on Twitter @jmcleanks.