Third time turned out to be unlucky after all.
Earlier today, Sen. Susan Collins said that she has serious concerns about the latest GOP bill to repeal and replace ObamaCare as Republicans prepare to vote on the legislation next week, adding that she was “leaning against the bill… I’m just trying to do what I believe is the right thing for the people of Maine.” And with Collins voicing against the bill, it meant that GOP leadership would be left with no room for error if they want to get their last-ditch ObamaCare repeal bill through the Senate next week.
The math is simple: Republicans have 52 seats and need 50 senators to support the bill, which would require Vice President Pence to break a tie, under the special budget rules being used to avoid a Democratic filibuster. Sen. Rand Paul has already said he will vote against the legislation.
Which meant that losing just one more vote would mean the end of this latest attempt to repeal Obamacare.
They lost it moments ago when John McCain said in a statement that “I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal“.
— John McCain (@SenJohnMcCain) September 22, 2017
The senator added that “I would consider supporting legislation similar to that offered by my friends Senators Graham and Cassidy were it the product of extensive hearings, debate and amendment. But that has not been the case. Instead, the specter of September 30th budget reconciliation deadline has hung over this entire process. McCain’s statement recalls his dramatic return to Washington in July after a brain-cancer diagnosis, when he cast the decisive “no” vote to send a health plan by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell down to a stunning 49-51 defeat.
Ultimately, McCain demands the Democrats be part of any solution: “A bill of this impact requires a bipartisan approach” as “we should not be content to pass health care legislation on a party-line basis, as Democrats did when they rammed Obamacare through Congress in 2009.”
His full statement below:
STATEMENT BY SENATOR JOHN McCAIN ON HEALTH CARE REFORM
Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) released the following statement today on health care reform:
“As I have repeatedly stressed, health care reform legislation ought to be the product of regular order in the Senate. Committees of jurisdiction should mark up legislation with input from all committee members, and send their bill to the floor for debate and amendment. That is the only way we might achieve bipartisan consensus on lasting reform, without which a policy that affects one-fifth of our economy and every single American family will be subject to reversal with every change of administration and congressional majority.
“I would consider supporting legislation similar to that offered by my friends Senators Graham and Cassidy were it the product of extensive hearings, debate and amendment. But that has not been the case. Instead, the specter of September 30th budget reconciliation deadline has hung over this entire process.
“We should not be content to pass health care legislation on a party-line basis, as Democrats did when they rammed Obamacare through Congress in 2009. If we do so, our success could be as short-lived as theirs when the political winds shift, as they regularly do. The issue is too important, and too many lives are at risk, for us to leave the American people guessing from one election to the next whether and how they will acquire health insurance. A bill of this impact requires a bipartisan approach.
“Senators Alexander and Murray have been negotiating in good faith to fix some of the problems with Obamacare. But I fear that the prospect of one last attempt at a strictly Republican bill has left the impression that their efforts cannot succeed. I hope they will resume their work should this last attempt at a partisan solution fail.
“1 cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal. I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried. Nor could I support it without knowing how much it will cost, how it will effect insurance premiums, and how many people will be helped or hurt by it. Without a full CB0 score, which won’t be available by the end of the month, we won’t have reliable answers to any of those questions.
“I take no pleasure in announcing my opposition. Far from it. The bill’s authors are my dear friends, and I think the world of them. I know they are acting consistently with their beliefs and sense of what is best for the country. So am I.
“I hope that in the months ahead, we can join with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to arrive at a compromise solution that is acceptable to most of us, and serves the interests of Americans as best we can.”
In response to McCain’s statement, Lindsey Graham, one of the bill’s sponsors, tweeted “My friendship with @SenJohnMcCain is not based on how he votes but respect for how he’s lived his life and the person he is”, however he added that “I respectfully disagree with @SenJohnMcCain position not to proceed forward on Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson” and that “I know Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson is the best chance to repeal and replace Obamacare.”
My friendship with @SenJohnMcCain is not based on how he votes but respect for how he’s lived his life and the person he is.
— Lindsey Graham (@LindseyGrahamSC) September 22, 2017
* * *
Earlier on Friday, the Brookings Institution estimated Friday that the Graham-Cassidy plan would reduce the number of people with health coverage by about 21 million a year from 2020 through 2026. The number may be larger, it said, because of difficulties in setting up state health systems by 2020 and possible market turmoil in the final years. “What is clear, however, is that the legislation would result in very large reductions in insurance coverage,” Brookings said. The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said Medicaid funding cuts would equal 16 percent of projected state budgets in 2027. “That’s more than what states provide for higher education,” it said according to Bloomberg.
McConnell said earlier this week that he intended to hold a Senate vote next week before a Sept. 30 deadline to use a fast-track procedure allowing a simple majority vote. David Popp, a spokesman for McConnell, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about McCain’s decision.
President Donald Trump warned on Twitter on Friday, “Rand Paul, or whoever votes against Hcare Bill, will forever (future political campaigns) be known as ‘the Republican who saved ObamaCare.’” The president is working the phone on the issue and is “open to having face-to-face meetings,” adviser Kellyanne Conway said on Fox News. “The president is leaning in all the way.”
Meanwhile, Democrats denounced the lightning-speed path to a vote, with only one committee hearing on the bill scheduled. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer of New York said the “dead of night” bill’s spending cuts will cause millions of Americans to lose insurance coverage and burden the finances of his state and many others.
The new proposal would turn Obamacare funds into block grants for the states, which would create their own health-care plans for their residents. States that expanded Medicaid under Obamacare would be hardest hit by spending cuts, losing $180 billion from 2020 to 2026, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. States that rejected the Medicaid expansion would gain $73 billion.
The measure would end the Affordable Care Act’s requirements that individuals have insurance and that most employers provide it.
And with the GOP’s final attempt to pass Obamacare repeal before the end of the month now likely history, the market sighed a collective breath of relief, sending the managed care index soaring as the status quo is now assured to remain indefinitely.
And now we await Donald Trump’s latest angry tweet.