NASHVILLE — U.S. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., said today he supports repealing portions of the Affordable Care Act without an immediate replacement for it.
Corker argued the repeal-and-delay strategy puts pressure on everyone to find a solution, but Tennessee Democrats immediately accused the senator of flip flopping on his previous stances.
"After being involved in many discussions over the past several months with my colleagues and stakeholders across Tennessee, I believe the best path forward is for Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act after a reasonable transition period," Corker said in a statement.
That, Corker said, "takes us back to a level playing field where, by a date certain, all sides have incentive to work together to develop a health care replacement that can generate broad support and will stand the test of time.
"Regardless of how we move forward, it is my hope that our focus will be not only on coverage but also on lowering the actual cost of health care," he added.
Corker's abrupt reversal from his prior stance drew immediate fire from Tennessee Democratic Party Chairwoman Mary Mancini, who dubbed the former Chattanooga mayor as "Beltway Bob," charging he has "flip-flopped" on his previous stance and even "lied."
In January, the senator said he was "encouraged that the debate has shifted in recent weeks from 'repeal only' to 'repeal and replace' in a thoughtful and deliberative manner."
Mancini said Corker at the time seemingly acknowledged his 2015 repeal vote was "pure politics," saying he said, "I know much of of the repeal piece is about making a political point."
She also charged that Corker "made a commitment to a voter" on video during a visit to Arlington, Tenn., in which he said "he would not vote for any bill that cut the subsidies in the ACA."
"It is now clear that Republicans have never had any intention of improving the health care system and expanding access to affordable coverage," Mancini said, adding Corker previously "admitted that 'repeal' is purely to make a political point and offers no substantive solutions for Tennesseans.
"Now he is going back on everything he said less than six months ago Senator Corker lied to a voter in Arlington and he has been playing politics with Tennesseans health care for years," Mancini added. "When will he start putting the people of Tennessee over his political party and his political agenda?" Mancini said.