Columns

Senate Healthcare Bill Flatlines as Two More GOPs Bow Out

Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) responds to questions about his opposition to the GOP healthcare bill, during a TV news interview on Capitol Hill in Washington on July 11, 2017. (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)

WASHINGTON — The latest version of the Obamacare repeal and replace bill officially flatlined this evening as the third and fourth GOP senators to oppose the legislation declared their non-support.

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) had indefinitely delayed the bill that could have come to the floor this week after Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) had a procedure Friday to remove a blood clot. McCain is expected to be recovering in his home state for at least a week or two.

The Senate bill “contains important reforms to move our country forward,” McConnell said on the floor earlier today. “These are the kind of reforms Americans deserve. Not the status quo of Obamacare, not a multi-billion-dollar Band-Aid, not a piling-on of even more Obamacare — but real, patient-centered reforms that can finally move us beyond the pain of Obamacare. The only way we’ll get there is with continued hard work, and that’s just what we intend to do.”

Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) announced their opposition — for different reasons, as Paul fumed that the bill didn’t really kill Obamacare while Collins felt the Medicare cuts were too brutal — early in the process.

And while GOP leaders couldn’t afford to lose one more member, two senators announced their opposition tonight.

Sen. Jerry Moran (R-Kansas) said changes made to the bill in an effort to make it more palatable didn’t cut it.

“We should not put our stamp of approval on bad policy. Furthermore, if we leave the federal government in control of everyday healthcare decisions, it is more likely that our healthcare system will devolve into a single-payer system, which would require a massive federal spending increase,” Moran said in a statement.

“We must now start fresh with an open legislative process to develop innovative solutions that provide greater personal choice, protections for pre-existing conditions, increased access and lower overall costs for Kansans,” he added.

Moran said his ultimate goal is to repeal and replace Obamacare, but he dinged the closed-door process that produced the Senate bill.

“After conferring with trusted experts regarding the latest version of the Consumer Freedom Amendment, I have decided I cannot support  the current version of the Better Care Reconciliation Act,” Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah) said. “In addition to not repealing all of the Obamacare taxes, it doesn’t go far enough in lowering premiums for middle-class families, nor does it create enough free space from the most costly Obamacare regulations.”

Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) declared that the latest failure was “proof positive that the core of this bill is unworkable.”

“Rather than repeating the same failed, partisan process yet again, Republicans should start from scratch and work with Democrats on a bill that lowers premiums, provides long term stability to the markets and improves our healthcare system,” he said.

President Trump hosted a handful of Republican senators at the White House tonight to press them on the healthcare bill: Sens. Lamar Alexander (Tenn.), Roy Blunt (Mo.), John Cornyn (Texas), Steve Daines (Mont.), James Lankford (Ore.), Richard Shelby (Ala.), and John Thune (S.D.).