NORTH LITTLE ROCK — Gov. Asa Hutchinson reiterated Tuesday that Congress should not repeal the Affordable Care Act without a plan in place for replacing it, but Arkansas’ senators both said they support that approach.

Talking to reporters after a news conference on an unrelated matter at the L’Oreal plant in North Little Rock, Hutchinson said, “I just don’t think it’s wise to say we’re going to set an uncharted course. I think we have to know where we’re going.”

The previous evening, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, announced that a GOP bill to repeal and replace much of the Affordable Care Act was dead because of insufficient support. McConnell said the Senate would vote instead on a revived version of a 2015 bill, which then-President Barack Obama vetoed, to repeal Obama’s health-care law in two years, with no set plan for replacing it but a promise to work on one in the meantime.

Several Republican senators said Tuesday they would not support that approach, apparently indicating it also lacks enough support to pass. President Donald Trump said Tuesday the best approach may be to let the law known as Obamacare fail and then work to replace it.

Hutchinson said that “I don’t think they should give up on health-care reform.”

But the Republican governor said reform efforts should be bipartisan and should include a path going forward.

“I think you’ve got to be able to pull people together from both sides of the aisle and say, ‘We’re going to have a bipartisan solution here to set the path for the future,’” he said.

Hutchinson said he is concerned about the possible harmful effects of a repeal with no replacement plan.

“Repeal without a direction would be providing instability in our health-care system in the United States and not give confidence and would create worry and anxiety among people in Arkansas that are relying on some assurance that they’re going to have affordable health care,” he said.

Cotton said Tuesday in an interview on Little Rock radio station KARN that the Senate “can’t drop” the effort to reform the health-care law.

“It’s too important to too many Arkansans to just walk away from it,” he said.

Cotton said the approach in the 2015 bill, which he voted for, would be “prudent.”

“If we can’t develop a new system right away because there’s too many disagreements within the Senate, I still think we need to put the marker down,” he said.

“We need to fulfill the promise on which we campaigned for four straight elections. And then we can have another election. Because that bill on which we all voted two years ago has a two-year time-line on it, so it would allow us to reach the kind of consensus we need. It also would allow the American people to render their verdict on what they want from their health-care system in the future,” Cotton said.

Boozman, who also voted for the 2015 bill two years ago, said in a statement Tuesday, “It’s clear that an agreement on the proposed legislation to repeal and immediately replace Obamacare is not in the cards. That should not be taken as an indicator that our commitment to provide relief to the millions of Americans who have been hurt by Obamacare has weakened by any means.”

Boozman said Americans deserve a system “that ensures access to affordable, quality care for all, and we intend to make that a reality.”

“I support the majority leader’s decision to move forward with a repeal of Obamacare with a transition period, so we can work together to replace this failed program with market-based solutions that will bring the changes that Obamacare, and all its broken promises, simply cannot deliver,” he said.


Contact John Lyon at and follow him on Twitter at @johnlyon09.