GOP split on what to do next

Some urge bi­par­ti­san ef­fort, but oth­ers say they came too close to re­peal to turn back.

The Denver Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Laura Lit­van and Steven T. Den­nis

WASH­ING­TON» Repub­li­cans in Congress have been un­able to agree on a way to re­peal and re­place Oba­macare — and now they’re di­vided on whether they should give up on their GOP-only ap­proach.

Sen. John Mc­Cain urged fel­low sen­a­tors Fri­day to “start fresh” and seek a bi­par­ti­san plan, hours af­ter he pro­vided the de­ci­sive vote against his cham­ber’s lat­est Oba­macare-re­peal pro­posal. “We can do this,” the Ari­zona Repub­li­can said in a news re­lease.

Other Repub­li­cans in­sist they came too close to a GOP-only agree­ment on de­mol­ish­ing Oba­macare to turn back from that idea. The Se­nate fell only one vote short of ad­vanc­ing a par­tial re­peal of Oba­macare early Fri­day, with op­po­si­tion from Mc­Cain and two other Repub­li­cans. In May, the House passed its re­place­ment plan on a ra­zor-thin 217-213 vote.

House Free­dom Cau­cus Chair­man Mark Mead­ows said he has no in­ten­tion of work­ing with Democrats.

“In the end, we will pre­vail,” the North Carolina Repub­li­can told reporters Fri­day. “I fully ex­pect we will have some­thing on the pres­i­dent’s desk in Septem­ber.”

Se­nate Repub­li­can hard-liner Ted Cruz of Texas also dis­missed the idea of bi­par­ti­san­ship out of hand.

“It’s a hit in the gut; now we’re re­act­ing, what do we do,” Rep. Dave Brat, a Vir­ginia

Repub­li­can, told reporters.

Al­low­ing fail­ure

Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump’s im­pulse has been do noth­ing, let Oba­macare die and wait for Democrats to come to him to seek new leg­is­la­tion.

“They should have ap­proved health care last night but, boy oh boy, the swamp,” Trump said in a speech Fri­day in Ronkonkoma, N.Y. “I said from the be­gin­ning, let Oba­macare im­plode.”

There have been re­peated hints that the pres­i­dent could stop mak­ing the health care law’s cost-shar­ing pay­ments for low-in­come peo­ple, which in­sur­ers and an­a­lysts have warned would cause a spike in pre­mi­ums and per­haps even a pull­out from more mar­kets.

But that’s a risky strat­egy, with Repub­li­cans in charge of all of Wash­ing­ton and the pres­i­dent al­ready fac­ing his­tor­i­cally low poll rat­ings head­ing into a midterm elec­tion year.

White House bud­get di­rec­tor Mick Mul­vaney ex­pressed dis­ap­point­ment in a Bloomberg TV in­ter­view.

“We had hoped to clear the decks of health care last night so we could move our full at­ten­tion to tax re­form,” Mul­vaney said. With the Se­nate sched­uled to re­main in ses­sion for two more weeks be­fore tak­ing an Au­gust re­cess, he added: “All I know is we still ex­pect them to do some­thing be­fore they leave town.”

Ear­lier this week Mc­Cain made a dra­matic re­turn to the Se­nate af­ter brain-can­cer treat­ment to cast the 50th vote to start de­bate on the bill. But he gave the de­ci­sive thumbs-down dur­ing Fri­day’s vote on a bare­bones Oba­macare re­place­ment de­signed to jump­start bi­cam­eral talks on a fi­nal bill. The fi­nal tally was 49-51, with Repub­li­cans Su­san Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska also vot­ing no.

The col­lapse was a blow to Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell of Ken­tucky, who has pre­vi­ously said if Repub­li­cans failed they would need to cut a deal with Democrats to sta­bi­lize the mar­kets. Af­ter the dra­matic fail­ure of his bill, the flush­faced leader de­clared he wasn’t in­ter­ested in a “bailout” of in­sur­ance com­pa­nies but wanted to hear what other ideas Democrats have.

In the Se­nate, half a dozen Repub­li­can and Demo­cratic sen­a­tors have dis­cussed al­ter­na­tives to the em­bat­tled GOP health care bill. They mostly cen­ter on cre­at­ing a rein­sur­ance fund and au­tho­riz­ing cost-shar­ing pay­ments for in­sur­ers on the Oba­macare in­sur­ance ex­changes so they don’t have to raise prices for cov­er­ing a sicker pool of cus­tomers. An­other Demo­cratic idea would take a bite out of drug com­pany pay­ments and plow the sav­ings into the sys­tem.

Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Chuck Schumer of New York told reporters Fri­day he is op­ti­mistic that mem­bers of both par­ties can work to­gether to sta­bi­lize in­sur­ance mar­kets and then “sit down and trade ideas” for the long run.

“Change it, im­prove it, but don’t just take a knife and try to de­stroy it and put noth­ing in its place,” he said.

Sen. Lind­sey Gra­ham, a South Carolina Repub­li­can, met with Trump on Fri­day to talk about his Oba­macare re­place­ment pro­posal with GOP Sens. Bill Cas­sidy of Louisiana and Dean Heller of Ne­vada. The plan, which was never em­braced by McCon­nell or Democrats, would re­di­rect much of the fed­eral fund­ing for health in­sur­ance as block grants to states to use for health care spend­ing.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.