Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) put off a vote on the Senate’s Better Care and Reconciliation Act on Tuesday after a few, but prominent, Republican colleagues expressed their opposition to bill, as it is currently written. Right from the start, McConnell could only afford to lose two Republicans in his 52-member conference and still pass the bill with Vice President Mike Pence’s tie-breaking vote. All Senate Democrats oppose the bill.
Before Wednesday’s vote, Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) and Susan Collins (R-ME) both strongly came out against the bill. Conservative Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Rand Paul (R-KY) also made their opposition clear.
Meanwhile, President Trump invited all 52 GOP senators to a White House meeting on Tuesday afternoon in an attempt to find a way forward. After the meeting with Trump and Vice President Mike Pence, McConnell said that Republicans had “made good progress” but McConnell will still need to get a new Congressional Budget Office score on the amended bill before he can hold another vote after the holiday.
“That first proposal, which Cruz and other conservatives see as the path toward lower premiums, would effectively let insurers discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions and charge people more for services like maternity care,” notes HuffPost, and is an “amendment that moderates would almost certainly oppose.”
Earlier on Tuesday, McConnell met with one of the bill’s more committed critics, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), to discuss two possible fixes: “one that would allow insurers to offer plans that don’t comply with Obamacare regulations, and another that would expand the use of health savings accounts,” reports The Huffington Post.
Several Republicans came out publicly against the bill, after McConnell pulled the vote, including Kansas Sen. Jerry Moran and Ohio Sen. Rob Portman.
The Senate’s plan to repeal and replace Obamacare is from dead. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) also had to delay a final vote on the House’s repeal and replace bill earlier this year; however, the bill eventually passed after Freedom Caucus members forced key changes to bill.
The CBO has predicted that under the GOP’s Senate bill,
a 64-year-oldmaking $56,800 with a standard plan will see her premiums jump from $6,800 to $20,500.
Several Republican senators, including Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Moore Capito (R-WV), have been expressing their serious concerns about the massive cuts to Medicaid that make the bill’s estimated $541 billion in tax cuts possible and would certainly leave many of their constituents, particularly those in rural communities, high and dry. Murkowski, in fact, went so far as to suggest that Democrats should be part of a a bipartisan effort, saying in a statement that critical changes to health care are needed but those changes must be “done right.”
GOP leaders are planning to hammer out a compromise bill by the end of this week, a senior Senate aide told CNN, giving GOP members a full week during recess to digest the bill in its entirely, before calling a vote on the revised bill as soon as they return.