On Friday, July 28, the GOP’s continued effort to pass heath care legislation collapsed as Republican Senator John McCain cast his decisive vote against the GOP bill, causing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to pull the bill off the Senate floor. “I regret that our efforts were simply not enough, this time,” he announced, “This is clearly a disappointing moment.”
Senator McCain’s critical vote was the 50th to be cast and was one of the three Republican votes against the bill, resulting in a final 49-51 count. McCain’s vote came after weeks of extensive dialogue on the matter, including phone conversations with Vice President Mike Pence, and a dramatic return to the Senate floor after receiving cancer treatment. According to CNN, the legislation, referred to as a "skinny repeal" bill, would repeal the Affordable Care Act's individual and employer mandates and temporarily repeal the medical device tax. The bill would also give states more flexibility to allow insurance that doesn't comply with Obamacare regulations.
Additional information from a report released by the Congressional Budget Office indicated that if the bill passed, 5 million more people would be uninsured next year than under Obamacare, with 16 million more in 2026. Premiums would jump 20% next year, compared to current law.
Senate Republicans remain divided, with some arguing for continued GOP-only efforts to replace the ACA, while the others rally for a bi-partisan approach.
Republican Senator Lamar Alexander of Tennessee and Democrat Senator Patty Murray of Washington will begin bipartisan Senate Health Committee hearings early September to move towards a solution. “There are a number of issues with the American health care system, but if your house is on fire, you want to put out the fire, and the fire in this case is the individual insurance market,” Alexander said Tuesday. “Both Republicans and Democrats agree on this.” The goal is to create a short-term bill that could stabilize the individual healthcare markets, one of the most volatile aspects of the Affordable Care Act.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, House Freedom Caucus Chairman Republican Mark Meadows has no desire on a bi-partisan solution stating, "In the end, we will prevail. I fully expect we’ll have something on the president’s desk in September."
With the defeat of the bill still fresh, Orrin Hatch, a Republican Senate Finance Committee Chairman, doubts any movement on the topic of health care will occur in the near future until both sides gain perspective stating, “We’ve got to let it simmer for a while until we get both sides into a position where they see we’ve got to do something here.”
After the bill was pulled off the floor, President Trump took to Twitter and stated, “As I said from the beginning, let ObamaCare implode, then deal. Watch!” On that note, it looks like the fate of American health care will continue down uncertain and rocky waters.
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