Senate healthcare bill crashes as procedural votes vanish
Tuesday, July 18, 2017
Crash goes Senate Republicans' seven-year mission to overturn the Affordable Care Act (ACA) with the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA). Just ask Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
"Regretfully, it is now apparent that the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare will not be successful," McConnell said in a prepared statement.
Soon after the gavel fell to open the Senate session Monday night, McConnell got the word that two GOP senators would not back the party's current plan to replace the ACA. Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Jerry Moran of Kansas refused to vote to even allow the BCRA to the floor, which means that GOP debate on repealing and replacing the ACA will not begin.
"After conferring with trusted experts regarding the latest version of the Consumer Freedom Amendment, I have decided I cannot support the current version of the Better Care Reconciliation Act," Lee said in a statement. "In addition to not repealing all of the Obamacare taxes, it doesn't go far enough in lowering premiums for middle class families; nor does it create enough free space from the most costly Obamacare regulations."
Moran had similar reservations.
"There are serious problems with Obamacare, and my goal remains what it has been for a long time: to repeal and replace it," according to statement from Moran. "This closed-door process has yielded the BCRA, which fails to repeal the Affordable Care Act or address healthcare's rising costs. For the same reasons I could not support the previous version of this bill, I cannot support this one."
The dissenting views of Lee and Moran put them with two of their party peers, Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), previously on the record to stop the health bill debate. The four Republican senators' defections took place before the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office scored the new version of the GOP health bill. A CBO score of the BCRA's prior version found that it would result in 22 million Americans losing their health insurance by 2026.
President Donald J. Trump critiqued the health bill news on his Twitter account: "Republicans should just REPEAL failing ObamaCare now & work on a new Healthcare Plan that will start from a clean slate. Dems will join in!"
Republicans should just REPEAL failing ObamaCare now & work on a new Healthcare Plan that will start from a clean slate. Dems will join in!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 18, 2017
What is next? We return to McConnell.
"So, in the coming days," he said, "the Senate will vote to take up the House bill with the first amendment in order being what a majority of the Senate has already supported in 2015 and that was vetoed by then-President Obama: a repeal of Obamacare with a two-year delay to provide for a stable transition period to a patient-centered healthcare system that gives Americans access to quality, affordable care."
The devil is in those details of such potential Senate changes to the ACA, according to Anthony Wright, director of Health Access California.
"Not satisfied that his bill to throw 22 million Americans off coverage, Sen. McConnell will now force a vote on a more punitive repeal bill to undo coverage for 32 million — and double premiums to boot," Wright said. "Consumers need to keep calling their Congressional representatives to kill this bill that keeps coming back from the dead."
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