The Senate’s “repeal and replace” health care bill collapsed early this week after several Republican lawmakers refused to endorse it.
As we wrote on Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is now focused on a strict repeal. The bill would include “a two-year delay to provide for a stable transition period to a patient-centered healthcare system that gives Americans access to quality, affordable care,” said McConnell.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, such a move would rob 30 million people of coverage and cause premiums to increase by 20-25%.
President Trump, who for some time now has urged lawmakers to focus on repealing Obamacare if they can’t pass a reform bill, said Tuesday that he is willing to “just let Obamacare fail.”
After seven years of campaigning, Republicans have discovered that their own divisions are preventing them from delivering on their promise to repeal Obamacare. Trump invited all GOP senators to a luncheon on Wednesday during which they discussed how to move forward.
After the luncheon, McConnell announced that the repeal vote will be pushed to next week “at the request of the president and vice president.”
It is unlikely the vote will pass. McConnell can afford to lose only two GOP senators, but at least three have already expressed disapproval.
“To just say repeal and ‘Trust us, we’re going to fix it in a couple of years,’ that’s not going to provide comfort to the anxiety that a lot of Alaskan families are feeling right now,” says Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), adding that lawmakers must come up with a bipartisan solution.
Moderate Republicans have expressed a desire to sit down with Democrats and work on developing fixes to Obamacare markets with advice from state governors and other stakeholders. And the Dems are ready to cooperate.
“Democrats extend the hand of friendship if Republicans will set aside repeal, abandon cuts to Medicaid, and abandon huge tax breaks for the wealthy,” said House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA).
Senator Lamar Alexander (R-TN) says he will soon hold hearings on ways to stabilize struggling insurance markets.
“Republican leaders can embrace their entreaties, try to forge ahead with a partisan health care bill, or shelve their repeal efforts and move onto tax reform,” reports The Washington Times.
In the meantime, the problems with Obamacare will continue. Some rural areas still don’t have an insurer lined up for 2018, and a whopping one-fifth of total exchange enrollment have just one option for healthcare – not to mention the increase in premiums. Open enrollment for 2018 begins in November.
“This has been a very, very challenging experience for all of us,” said McConnell. “Everybody’s given it their best shot, and as of today, we just simply do not have 50 senators who can agree on what ought to replace the existing law.”