Last night, during the Republican-controlled Senate’s “vote-a-rama” that set the stage for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare), there was one notable opportunity to amend the GOP’s agenda. Bernie Sanders (D-VT) and Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) proposed and amendment to allow importing prescription drugs from Canada to keep prescription drugs prices low. It was the ONLY amendment offered by Democrats that had significant bipartisan support. Twelve Republicans voted in favor of the Sanders-Klobuchar amendment. However, thirteen Democrats, including Pennsylvania Senator Bob Casey, joined with their GOP colleagues to shoot down the amendment.
Had it not been for the support from Casey and these twelve Democrats, any future “replacement” of the Affordable Care Act by Trump and his Republican-controlled legislature, could have included significantly lower prescription drug costs.
Casey, along with three of his Democratic defectors – Michael Bennet (D-CO), Cory Booker (D-NJ), Patty Murray (D-WA) – make the Top Ten list for Senators taking the most money from the pharmaceutical industry. Senator Casey comes in at number five, receiving $250,730 between 2010 and 2016.
Casey’s vote comes as Republican Senators such as Rand Paul (R-KY) and Tom Cotton (R-AR) have publicly expressed concern about their Republican leadership’s plan to “Repeal and Delay,” the Affordable Care Act. However, as last night’s vote on the Sanders-Klobuchar amendment demonstrated, the Republican leadership may be able to rely upon conservative Democrats like Casey to come to their aid.
Meanwhile, Our Revolution, the organization that sprung from Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign, is calling the fight to save affordable health care “Our First Big Stand.” The organization is calling for a demonstration on the Capitol Steps in Washington on Sunday, January 15.