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Senator Warren: Republicans have locked us out of health care reform talks

Nicole Sinclair
Markets Correspondent

Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) wants to work with Republicans to draft the Senate version of the health care bill, but she says Republicans have not included her and her Democratic peers.

“Right now, the Republicans are trying to figure out what to do with the House bill and they have locked the Democrats out of the room,” Warren said.

Warren said the Democrats have two main goals when it comes to health care: increase coverage and reduce costs for everyone.

“We have said, ‘We’ll work on those goals. You tell us, help us and we will work on those goals.’ We’re glad to do a joint plan. We’re glad to modify the current Affordable Care Act in order to do that,” she said. “And the Republicans are saying, in effect, ‘Lalala, I can’t hear you.'”

At the beginning of May, the House narrowly passed a revised version of the American Healthcare Act (AHCA), or Trumpcare.

The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has not yet released its score of the bill, which will outline the impact on the deficit and how many people could lose coverage. The report, which is expected the week of May 22, will be necessary before the Senate begins real work on its version of the bill.

The CBO’s scorecard for an earlier version of the bill found that it would save the federal government around $330 billion over a decade but would leave around 24 million fewer people with health insurance.

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) speaks during a demonstrator on Capitol Hill in Washington, Thursday, May 4, 2017. ( AP Photo/Jose Luis Magana)

Warren said Democrats’ bills—which she said would help millions of Americans with costs—are not even being acknowledged. She gave an example about lowering the cost of drugs.

“I have [a bill] with Bernie Sanders and several other senators that says, ‘Let’s import drugs from Canada,'” Warren said. “The Canadians are paying often half, a quarter of what we pay for our drugs. Let’s pay the same price they pay. Let’s get a little competition into this system and drive down the cost of drugs. That would matter for millions of families in this country, and it would help drive down the cost of health insurance … and it would drive down the amount our government is paying for its pharmaceuticals.”

“Right now, we cant get the Republicans to talk to us about it,” she said.

Warren confirmed reports that the Senate is negotiating its own legislation to repeal and replace Obamacare with groups of senators hand-picked by the party leaders, including Mitch McConnell.

These senators are taking the lead on writing the new health care legislation that could lead to winning support of at least 50 of the Senate’s 52 Republicans without attempting a bi-partisan effort. Instead, they are working on moving the legislation under reconciliation, special budget rules that make it not subject to filibuster rules and thus require only a simple majority.

Nicole Sinclair is markets correspondent at Yahoo Finance.

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