McConnell Says Senate Nears Obamacare Bill as GOP Doubts Linger
GOP Senate leaders and the White House predicted a vote before the August recess on a newly crafted bill that would repeal the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, and replace it with a Republican alternative that would drop coverage mandates under the current law.
Speaking on background, an aide to a conservative senator said their office is “very disappointed” in the healthcare proposal as it now stands and that its structure “absolutely” jeopardizes support on the right.
As the backlog of Republican priorities piles up – tax reform, infrastructure, debt ceiling and government funding bills – Republicans are anxious about moving on. Rand Paul of Kentucky was “irretrievably gone” because he can’t support the tax credits, so the 52-seat majority is starting at 51 votes.
After Trump’s unexpected 2016 win, Republicans were bullish at the start his presidency about winning wholesale changes to health care, remaking the tax system and rebuilding America’s infrastructure.
The meeting also involved a discussion of more divisive policy decisions. “Of course, it’s not everything I want, but that’s life”. Senate Republicans have rejected the House bill but have struggled to come to agreement on a version of their own. “That’s why we’re going to keep the pressure on and do everything we can to bring their closed-door, all-male negotiations out into the open so families know just how bad this legislation would be for their health and financial security”. A White House official told CNN on Saturday that Trump would focus on infrastructure for the following week, including trips to OH and the Department of Transportation office in Washington. Rep. Gene Reynolds, the leader of the House Democrats, said it “doesn’t have a snowball’s chance” of passage. Mike Lee, R-Utah, want steeper cuts to Medicaid.
And after the GOP meeting Tuesday, Graham sounded more optimistic, calling the options discussed “promising proposals”.
Democrats had argued that some provisions violated the requirements and that the House would have to vote on the bill again to remove them. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., who expects Republicans will need to provide a stopgap measure to stabilize insurance markets while they continue working on a broader overhaul.
“I think there’s a consensus on parts of the plan”.
It’s also unclear when Senate Republicans will introduce legislative text, which reveals the devil in the details and will likely only spark more controversy and dissent.
Health care: Republicans now hope to have health care passed through the Senate by July 4, though they admit that’s a very ambitious timeline.
While many Republicans have spent years pledging to cut Medicaid, they are now reluctant to undo the program that provides coverage to more than 70 million low-income Americans, including many of their constituents. But Price said the program was later stabilized and has become one of the best-run programs today among states.
“The Affordable Care Act is the law of the land”, Pelosi said on CNN. But for Portman, among others, pushing some or all of the Medicaid expansion cuts into the future means pushing the pain of those cuts past the years in which they will be up for re-election.
Senator Ron Wyden of OR, the top Democrat on the Senate Finance Committee, on Tuesday called the House bill “Robin Hood in reverse” and said it “moves America back to yesteryear, when health care was for the healthy and the wealthy”.
If McConnell can not bridge the Medicaid divide, he may have to refocus efforts on more limited legislation to rescue insurance markets across the country that have been battered by the political turmoil in Washington.
The legislative uncertainty and the Trump administration’s refusal, thus far, to reimburse Obamacare insurers for $9 billion in cost-sharing subsidies to low-income plan members has contributed to a destabilized individual insurance market.
Others are eager to move past health care as well.