Illinois Sen. Dick Durbin said two factors would have to be met before any Democrats will work with Republicans on a healthcare bill: take Obamacare repeal off the table, and do the same for the proposed tax cut in the current bill.
"What's driving this is not healthcare reform, what's driving this is a tax cut — a tax cut the Republicans insist on of about $700 billion dollars for the wealthiest people in America and pharmaceutical companies," the Senate minority whip told Brit Hume on "Fox News Sunday."
Durbin appeared on the show immediately after Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price said more Democrats ought to be interested in working with Republicans to craft healthcare reform.
Durbin also criticized the bill for the projections that came out last week from the Congressional Budget Office, which estimated 22 to 23 million people would be without health insurance over the next decade, if the Senate bill were passed as originally written.
Wyoming Republican Sen. John Barrasso said Durbin's assertions about the tax cut were "absolutely wrong."
"We are down to one company providing insurance in Wyoming, the prices have skyrocketed," Barrasso said. "That's why we have to do something. We need to do what the people are asking for, which is stabilize the insurance markets."
When pressed on the tax issues of the current bill, Barrasso compared the proposed tax structure to Obamacare.
"Obamacare raise[s] taxes on every American who uses healthcare in America," Barrasso said.
"They put it on over the counter medicines, prescription medicines, medical devices, which are so often used for the disabled population the most. It has been very cruel taxing on Obamacare," Barrasso said.
Hume also pressed Durbin on rising premiums under Obamacare, but Durbin blamed those rising prices not on markets, but on the president:
"But in the meantime when you go to the insurance company and say, ‘Why are you pulling out of markets? Why are you raising premiums?' They say the uncertainty in Washington since the arrival of President Trump, who from his first executive order has been undermining health insurance and the Affordable Care Act, cutting out the individual marketplace, which would expand insurance pools and bring premiums down, cutting out the assistance for those who need help in paying for premiums."