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McConnell Delays Vote On GOP Health Care Bill

| by Robert Fowler
Mitch McConnellMitch McConnell

The Senate Majority Leader, Republican Sen. Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, has delayed a vote on the GOP health care bill designed to repeal and replace the Obama administration's Affordable Care Act, commonly called "Obamacare." McConnell had originally aimed to hold a vote on the legislation before the July 4 recess.

On June 27, a Senate aide disclosed that a vote on the Better Care Reconciliation Act would be pushed back, meaning that any potential vote on the bill would occur after the July 4 recess.

"We will not be on the bill this week, but we will still be working to get at least 50 people in a comfortable place," McConnell announced in a statement.

During that interval, McConnell reportedly plans to corral wavering Senate Republicans to support the bill. President Donald Trump met with all 52 GOP Senators at the White House to strategize on forming a consensus, Reuters reports.

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With Senate Democrats unanimously against the BCRA, McConnell would need at least 50 Republicans to support the bill, with a vote from Vice President Mike Pence as the tie-breaker. The Senate Majority leader reportedly wanted to pass the legislation before his colleagues went home to their constituents for a full week, but evidently there was not enough GOP support for the ACA repeal plan.

Republican Sens. Rand Paul of Kentucky, Susan Collins of Maine, Dean Heller of Nevada, Mike Lee of Utah and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin had already announced they would not support bringing the BCRA up for debate, which would initiate a vote. Republican Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio has also signaled opposition to the bill, The New York Times reports.

There were two factions of dissenting Senate Republicans, with one side citing concern about how the BCRA would impact their constituents and the other accusing the bill of not going far enough to repeal the ACA.

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The same day McConnell delayed a vote, the conservative political action committee Club for Growth released a statement blasting the BCRA as an insufficient repeal of the ACA.

"The Club for Growth and the American people took Republicans in Congress at their word when they promised to repeal every word -- 'root and branch' -- of Obamacare and replace it with a patient-centered approach to health care," said the PAC's president, David McIntosh. "Only in Washington does repeal translate to restore. Because that's exactly what the Senate GOP health care bill does: it restores Obamacare."

One senior GOP aide asserted that McConnell would be able to craft a compromise bill that would satisfy both factions after the July 4 recess.

"We know what everyone needs," the aide told CNN. "Now we just need to make it work."

On June 26, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office released an analysis of the BCRA, estimating it would result in 22 million fewer Americans possessing health insurance by 2026 than if the ACA was kept in place. The report found that 15 million fewer Americans would be insured by 2018 alone if the legislation were implemented in 2017, according to The Hill.

The CBO report also found that out-of-pocket medical expenses would dramatically increase for low-income families and retired seniors.

The White House swiftly released a statement blasting the CBO score, asserting that the agency "has consistently proven it cannot accurately predict how health care legislation will impact insurance coverage."

On June 27, House Speaker GOP Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin defended the CBO on Capitol Hill. Ryan also dismissed accusations from the Trump administration that the agency had a partisan bias, pointing out that CBO director Keith Hall was previously appointed by Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price.

"Yeah, he's actually a Republican appointee," Ryan said of Hall. "If I'm not mistaken, Tom Price appointed him... It is important that we have a referee."

Sources: CNN, The Hill (2), The New York Times, Reuters / Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore/Flickr (2) (3)

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