McCain’s surprise vote kills ACA ‘skinny repeal’
Friday, July 28, 2017
The Republican Party's seven-year bid to overturn the Affordable Care Act ended with a whimper around 2 a.m. Friday morning when Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) cast the key no vote in a 49-51 defeat. The so-called "skinny repeal," dubbed the Healthcare Freedom Act, had been introduced by Sen. Majority Leader McConnell (R-Ky).
"It's time to move on," McConnell said soon after the vote. Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) expressed relief at the HFA's defeat.
McCain's dramatic return to the Senate after beginning treatment for brain cancer began with his yes vote to proceed with a procedural debate to repeal the ACA. But he did not see enough merit in the latest bill to win his vote, joining two of his GOP colleagues — Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) — who voted with all 48 Senate Democrats to defeat the HFA.
"From the beginning," McCain said in a prepared statement, "I have believed that Obamacare should be repealed and replaced with a solution that increases competition, lowers costs and improves care for the American people. The so-called 'skinny repeal' amendment the Senate voted on today would not accomplish those goals. While the amendment would have repealed some of Obamacare's most burdensome regulations, it offered no replacement to actually reform our healthcare system and deliver affordable, quality healthcare to our citizens."
The bill would have ended the ACA's employer and individual mandates, tax on medical devices and Section 1332 of the federal law that would have let states change vital features of health insurance. Further, the HFA eliminated abortion funding to certain providers for one year.
Under the HFA, the number of uninsured Americans under the age of 65 would rise from 28 million in 2017 to 43 million by 2026, according to an analysis from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.
President Donald Trump quickly took to Twitter to critique the Senators who voted against the HFA.
3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down. As I said from the beginning, let ObamaCare implode, then deal. Watch!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 28, 2017
"3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down," Trump wrote shortly after the vote. "As I said from the beginning, let ObamaCare implode, then deal. Watch!"
A recent USA Today / Suffolk University public opinion poll about repealing the ACA found that only 12 percent of Americans backed this effort. The poll contacted 1,000 registered votes by cell and landline phone.
The HFA would have led to 16 million more uninsured Americans and hiked premiums by 20 percent above regular medical inflation, according to Anthony Wright, executive director, Health Access California, the statewide healthcare consumer advocacy coalition. Despite McConnell's comments about moving on after the Senate defeated the HFA, Wright cautioned continued defense of the ACA.
"Revised versions of the bill," Wright said, "or efforts during the debate around the federal budget or tax cuts, would revive proposals that could lead to millions more uninsured, and more paying much more for far less coverage."
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