Se­nate Repub­li­cans be­gin ef­forts to re­peal Oba­macare

Woonsocket Call - - Seniors -

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

Herb Weiss

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