Republican Sen. Lamar Alexander of Tennessee has asserted that the proposal to repeal the Obama administration's Affordable Care Act without an immediate replacement was a non-starter. The Republican senator told reporters that far more of his colleagues were against a repeal-only bill than were letting on.
On July 18, President Donald Trump met with 49 Senate Republicans to discuss how they would move forward on health care. During his remarks, the president declared that only repealing the ACA was an option, although he would prefer GOP lawmakers pass their own health care plan, the Better Care Reconciliation Act, Reuters reports.
"We can repeal, but we should repeal and replace, and we shouldn't leave town until this is complete," Trump stated.
The Senate Majority Leader, Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, had announced that he would hold a vote for debate on a repeal-only bill if the BCRA failed to corral the 50 votes necessary to pass in the chamber. If Senate Republicans opted for the repeal-only bill, there would be a two-year delay so they could presumably formulate a new health care law before uprooting the current system.
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Alexander, the chairman of the Senate Health Committee, expressed deep skepticism that his colleagues would support a repeal-only bill.
"I don't think there are 40 votes to repeal and say to the American people, 'Well, trust us to come up with something in the next couple of years,'" Alexander told CNN. "I don't think that's a good idea."
Meanwhile, Alexander was more optimistic that his party's Senate majority would drum up the votes to pass the BCRA.
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"The math has always been difficult, but there's a feeling that we have a responsibility to get a result," Alexander told Politico. "And we've worked for a long time to get one and we're still trying."
On July 20, an analysis by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that the latest draft of the BCRA would result in 22 million fewer Americans having health insurance insurance by 2026 than if the ACA were kept in place. The bill would was also estimated to reduce the federal deficit by roughly $420 billion over the same period, The Hill reports.
Meanwhile, the CBO has estimated that repealing the ACA without a replacement would result in 32 million Americans losing their health insurance by 2026. The measure was also estimated to increase premiums by nearly 100 percent over the same period.