Sen. Mike Johanns (left) and Minority Leader Mitch McConnell address reporters Tuesday about the 1099 repeal bill, which passed the chamber by a vote of 87-12.
In another signal that she may be open to changes to the individual mandate, McCaskill said it is important “to be ready” for a potential Supreme Court ruling on the mandate’s constitutionality.
Sen. Mary Landrieu cautioned that the broad Democratic support for the 1099 repeal “should not be interpreted as a willingness to chip away at the health care law” but that she and other Democrats “had always been open” to revisiting some aspects of the law.
“Not to chip it away, but to make it better, and we remain open,” the Louisiana Democrat said. “Republicans have been, for the most part, intransigent in not wanting this bill to work. They just want the president to fail. ... They want the health care bill to fail, and it’s terrible. ... That’s the position they took, and — as far as I know — they still hold it.”
As it did with the idea of repealing the 1099 requirement, the White House has given its blessing to legislation that Landrieu and Sens. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) and Scott Brown (R-Mass.) have introduced that would allow states to apply for a waiver in 2014 to opt out of major provisions of the health care law. Under the current law, states would have to wait until 2017 to apply for such a waiver.
Wyden described the proposal as a “natural” next step and said he had made the case to leadership for the measure.
Freshman Sen. Joe Manchin, the chief Democratic co-sponsor of the version of the 1099 repeal that the Senate passed Tuesday, said he, too, was willing to team up with Republicans to give states more freedom over how to implement the health care law.
“We’re looking at how the states have more flexibility,” the former West Virginia governor said. “You cant put the states in the bind that they are in. Coming from the state, I understand that.”
From a political standpoint, however, Republicans are hesitant to let go of the notion that they can get mileage out of Democrats’ support for the health care law, opposition to which many Republicans credit with the gains the party made in the 2010 midterms.
“I hope that now that people have learned a little bit more about the health care bill as its being implemented, that they will join us in repealing more of it. I have some other ideas after this one,” National Republican Senatorial Committee Chairman John Cornyn (Texas) said. “Every time there’s a vote and a debate up here, it raises the visibility of it, and I think the more people learn about the health care bill, the less they like it. And so we expect to see that continue.”