Ossoff, Warnock push Medicaid expansion in reconciliation bill: 'No senator's vote should be taken for granted
Warnock said Medicaid expansion is a matter of 'life or death' for Georgians
Sens. Jon Ossoff and Raphael Warnock said Tuesday that Medicaid expansion is a top priority for them as Democrats frantically try to come to a deal on their reconciliation bill before President Biden leaves the country for a climate conference Thursday.
"That's what's at stake," Warnock, D-Ga., said to reporters Tuesday after relaying a story about a woman who died because she could not afford health care. "That's what we're talking about. Life or death."
Georgia is one of a dozen states in the U.S. that hasn't taken advantage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) option for states to expand Medicaid's availability. And Warnock and Ossoff, D-Ga., campaigned on taking the option to expand Medicaid out of states' hands in their runoff election victories earlier this year.
But they've run into opposition from Sen. Joe Manchin, D-W.Va, who is against the inclusion of expanded Medicaid in the Democrats' massive reconciliation spending spree. Manchin says it would unfairly reward states like Georgia who did not expand Medicaid under the ACA. States like West Virginia, which did expand Medicaid, are paying 10% of the costs of that program while Georgia would pay nothing under Ossoff and Warnock's proposal.
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"The people of Georgia are paying taxes for health care they cannot access while subsidizing health care in West Virginia," Warnock retorted Tuesday
Neither Georgia senator would explicitly say that he will vote against Democrats' reconciliation bill if it does not include Medicaid expansion Tuesday. But they made clear it is a key demand for them.
"No senator's vote should be taken for granted," Ossoff said when asked whether he would withhold his vote on the bill if Medicaid expansion is not included.
"We're going to look at the total," bill, Warnock said in response to a similar question.
"But we have been consistently clear," Warnock continued, that Medicaid expansion is a key issue.
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Warnock also said they are "unified in our commitment to make sure that Medicaid expansion stays in this bill."
"We’re fighting for this," Ossoff added. "Hundreds of thousands of our constituents in Georgia suffer from lack of health care."
Medicaid is just one of many issues Democrats are trying to come to an agreement on this week. House Minority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md., told reporters he believed it was possible for Democrats to come to an agreement within hours. But it's not clear how that is possible with so much remaining up in the air.
Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, D-Ore., said Tuesday that his committee will release details of its corporate minimum tax proposal and its billionaire unrealized gains tax proposal Tuesday night. It's unclear if that will be simply a framework or actual legislative text.
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Meanwhile, questions remain about Democrats' IRS bank account reporting proposal and new immigration policies.
FOX Business' Caroline McKee and Hillary Vaughn contributed to this report.