Republicans must act fast if they want to repeal or replace Obamacare before the end of the 2017 budget year.
A new Republican effort to reform Obamacare is underway, and may receive the votes required to adjust the Affordable Care Act before the congressional deadline of September 30th. Senator John McCain (R-AZ), whose “nay” vote blocked the “skinny repeal” of Obamacare earlier this summer, has offered his tentative support for the bill, according to The Washington Times.
In July, 2017, a Republican effort to repeal major portions of The Affordable Care Act failed, after four Republican senators, including John McCain, refused to support the legislation.
52 Republicans sit in the Senate, thus offering them a majority. However, in-party fighting has plagued the first few months of the Trump administration, blocking major legislation from being passed. Republicans only require 50 votes to repeal Obamacare, as Vice President Mike Pence is the tie-breaker vote.
President Trump, as well as many Republican senators, ran on the full repeal and replacement of Obamacare. However, Republicans in Congress have been (so far) unable to draft a plan supported by all Republicans.
President Trump slammed members of his own party for failing to repeal Obamacare despite having seven years to draft a replacement for the runaway healthcare plan. “We were let down by all of the Democrats and a few Republicans. Most Republicans were loyal, terrific & worked really hard. We will return!” President Trump tweeted.
Later, at a rally in Phoenix, Arizona, President Trump alluded that John McCain was solely responsible for the failed effort to repeal Obamacare. Speaking in the senator’s home state, President Trump bemoaned, “One vote away,” in reference to the Obamacare repeal. “I will not mention any names,” he continued. “Very presidential, isn’t it?”
President Trump’s prodding appears to have worked, and John McCain has indicated that he is ready to work on the latest attempt to reform Obamacare. A new Obamacare reform bill is being drafted by Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), a longtime ally of McCain in the Senate. The bill is co-sponsored by Senator Bill Cassidy (R-LA), and Senator Dean Heller (R-NV), and would shift responsibility for implementing Obamacare from federal to state governments.
The new legislation would not cut funding for Obamacare. Instead, it would adopt a grant-block approach where each state would receive funding, and be allowed to spend it as they see fit.
“I think it’s a good proposal and I think we ought to support it,” Sen. McCain told reporters earlier this week. However, the senator has since walked back his support, saying he needs to see the full text of the bill, and discuss its impact on Arizona with Governor Doug Ducey.
Senator Susan M. Collins (R-ME), however, thinks Senator Graham’s bill is unlikely to pass as most senators focus on a different bill coming out of the health committee. The health committee bill is currently being drafted, and intends to stabilize Obamacare markets instead of repealing the failing healthcare plan.
Administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under President Obama, Andy Slavitt, referred to the Graham bill as out of touch, claiming it “is out of step with where the American public and many in the Senate are moving to now — small bipartisan steps to move us forward and make health care more affordable for millions of Americans.”
Regardless of the opinions going around about the new reform bill, all parties are watching closely to see where it will head next.