Health

Obamacare Repeal-Only Bill Sinks

| by Robert Fowler
The Senate Majority Leader, GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell of KentuckyThe Senate Majority Leader, GOP Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky

Less than a day after Senate Majority Leader Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky announced a vote to repeal the Obama administration's Affordable Care Act and implement a replacement later, three Republican senators have come out against the effort. The opposition effectively ended GOP aspirations to repeal the ACA for the time being and threw a wrench in President Donald Trump's legislative agenda.

On July 17, McConnell shifted gears after it became clear that the Better Care Reconciliation Act, the GOP proposal to replace the ACA -- also known as Obamacare -- would not be able to win enough votes from his own party. Republican Sens. Jerry Moran of Kansas and Mike Lee of Utah announced their opposition on social media, effectively killing the bill.

"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 statement, according to ABC News.

The Senate majority leader then pivoted, announcing that his chamber would vote on "a repeal of Obamacare with a two-year delay to provide for a stable transition period to a patient-centered health care system that gives Americans access to quality, affordable care."

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In January 2016, Senate Republicans voted on a full repeal bill of the ACA with the knowledge that former President Barack Obama would veto the legislation. At the time, the Congressional Budget Office estimated that a full repeal of the ACA would result in 32 million fewer Americans having health coverage by 2026. Premiums for health care plans were also estimated to double within a decade.

The GOP currently holds 52 Senate seats. McConnell would need 50 votes to pass any repeal or replacement bill through budget reconciliation.

Trump took to social media to urge GOP lawmakers to vote for a repeal of the ACA, asserting that Democrats would be forced to help them put together a replacement during the two years before the repeal went into effect.

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"Republicans should just REPEAL failing ObamaCare now & work on a new Healthcare Plan that will start from a clean slate," Trump tweeted on July 17. "Dems will join in!"

Democratic Rep. Adam Schiff of California swiftly blasted the president for his suggestion.

"To destroy a healthcare system that works is the height of irresponsibility," Schiff tweeted in response to Trump. "We will not bail you out of a crisis of your own making."

On July 18, the effort to repeal the ACA came to a halt. GOP Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska announced they would not support such a measure.

"We can't just hope that we will pass a replacement within the next two years," said Collins, according to The Hill. "Repealing without a replacement would create great uncertainty for individuals who rely on the [ACA] and cause further turmoil in insurance markets."

"I did not come to Washington to hurt people," Capito said, according to The New York Times. "I cannot vote to repeal Obamacare with a replacement plan that addresses my concerns and the needs of West Virginians."

Murkowski cited the CBO score of the 2016 effort to repeal the ACA as the reason why she could not support McConnell's latest effort.

"There's enough chaos and uncertainty already, and this would just contribute to it," Murkowski said.

Trump, after it became clear that there was not enough support to repeal the ACA, suggested that his administration allow the health care markets to unravel.

"I think we're probably in that position where we'll let Obamacare fail," Trump told The Associated Press. "We're not going to own it. I'm not going to own it ... We'll let Obamacare fail and then the Democrats are going to come to us."

Sources: ABC News, Adam Schiff/TwitterAP via The Boston GlobeThe Hill, The New York Times / Photo credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr (2), Medill DC/Flickr

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