Senate Republicans begin efforts to repeal Obamacare
On July 25, GOP leadership began its efforts to begin debate on the Senate health care bill to repeal AHA. On that Tuesday afternoon, the Senate passed a “motion to proceed” vote by 51-50, the deciding vote being cast by Vice President Mike Pence. The votes outcome allowed the upper chamber to begin debate on the Senate Republican’s Obamacare repeal-and-replace proposal. Collins and Murkowski had opposed this motion, but McCain, returning to Washington, D.C. after being diagnosed with brain cancer, voted yes to proceed with the debate.
Senators began a 20-hour period of debate, considering various amendments to the House version of the health care bill. By a vote of 43-57, the Senate rejected one version that included Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) controversial amendment that would have allowed those with pre-existing conditions to be separated into plans with much higher premiums. The Senate also rejected, by a vote of 45-55, another version that would have repealed the ACA with no replacement but with a twoyear delay, giving GOP senators more time to create their replacement.
Late Thursday evening, GOP Senate leadership finally unveiled its expected “skinny” repeal bill, formally called the Health Care Freedom Act, that would repeal ACA’s individual and employer mandates, temporarily repeal the medical device tax, and give states more flexibility to allow insurance that doesn't comply with Obamacare regulations.
CBO’s analysis of the “skinny” repeal bill estimated that 15 million more people would be uninsured next year than under Obamacare, with 16 million more in 2026, and that premiums would increase 20 percent next year, compared to current law.
Earlier that day, McCain and Republican Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Ron Johnson of Wisconsin held a news conference threatening to oppose the “skinny” repeal bill if House Speaker Paul Ryan did not offer sound guarantees that the House would enter negotiations after the Senate passed it. They feared that the House would end up passing “the skinny bill” rather than a more comprehensive bill hammered out in conference committee.
Ryan’s carefully crafted statement to the concerned senators that the House would be willing to go to a conference committee did not include a specific guarantee that the House would not vote on the Senate's proposal. Both Graham and Johnson went on to vote for the legislation. But, after his surprising vote, it seems that McCain still had his concerns.
Before the Senate vote, President Donald Trump even tweeted his displeasure of Murkowski’s opposition, her no vote against debating Obamacare repeal, said the Alaska Dispatch News. The state’s daily newspaper reported that Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke called the state’s senators, Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, to inform them that Murkowski's vote would “put Alaska's