Warner headlines Jefferson-Jackson Dinner in Loudoun, defends health care law
“There's some good and there's some bad, but one of the things that's pretty remarkable, with all its challenges, right now there are 8 million more Americans who have health care who didn't have it,” Warner, a Democrat, told a crowd of roughly 100 Democrats at the National Conference Center just east of Leesburg.
Virginia's senior senator also weighed in on the partisan Medicaid fight currently playing out in Richmond. Warner said it “kind of makes [him] mad” that his federal tax dollars are being sent to other states around the country that have opted into Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act. Repeating an oft-used talking point for Virginia Democrats, Warner said the commonwealth is losing $5 million every day it doesn't expand Medicaid.
Warner is up for re-election in November, and he's likely to square off against former Republican National Committee Chairman and lobbyist Ed Gillespie in a multi-million-dollar contest. Virginia Republicans will formally nominate their candidate in a convention next month.
GOP officials and Warner foes have angled to make this year's senatorial election a referendum on Obamacare and its numerous roadbumps. Despite the 8 million health care enrollees touted by the White House in April, conservatives have highlighted that as many as 33 percent of those haven't paid their first month's premium, a figure reported by CBS News.
A USA Today/Pew Research poll on the health care law released Monday showed that 55 percent of those surveyed oppose Obamacare.
Warner has consistently conceded the Affordable Care Act is "not perfect," but he said key provisions in the law – like allowing young adults to stay on their parents' health insurance plans until their 26 and ensuring people can receive insurance despite pre-existing conditions – are critical to improving health and wellness in the U.S. Moreover, Obamacare is working better than the national health care approach preceding 2010, when the law was signed, Warner says.
“ … as each of us has promised, we are taking important steps to make the law work even better for families and small businesses across the country,” Warner and several Senate colleagues -- four Democrats and one independent -- wrote in an op-ed in Politico in April. “From repealing the 1099 filing requirement to easing the paperwork burden on small businesses to allowing individuals to 'window shop' for their insurance options on HealthCare.gov, we have already eliminated several unnecessary and bureaucratic barriers while maintaining consumer protections that provide invaluable peace of mind to millions of Americans.”
In Loudoun Sunday, Warner expectantly pitched to his base, rallying supporters with calls for comprehensive immigration reform, raising the minimum wage and equal rights for the LGBT community.
“Minimum wage at $7.25 today has less purchasing power than $1.70,” Warner said, mentioning that $1.70 is what the minimum wage was when he started working in the 1960s. “If you work full-time … you ought to be able to put food on the table for your family.”
Warned pleaded for the crowd to “please, please, please” send John Foust to Congress to succeed U.S. Rep. Frank Wolf, a Republican. Foust, who attended the dinner, is in Virginia's 10th Congressional District race against Republican state Del. Barbara Comstock.
One of the wealthiest members of Congress, Warner said he owes much of his success in politics and the private sector to what he considers a strong public education.