The U.S. Senate over the weekend delayed a showdown over Trumpcare, the Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare, after Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) underwent surgery to remove a 2-in. blood clot above his left eye.
“Elaine and I, along with the entire Senate family, wish John the very best and wish him a speedy recovery,” majority leader Sen. Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said in a statement, according to The Hill. McConnell is married to transportation secretary Elaine Chao. “While John is recovering, the Senate will continue our work on legislative items and nominations and will defer consideration of the Better Care Act.”
It’s the second delay in as many months for Trumpcare, after Senate leadership called off a vote slated for June after opposition from separate GOP factions.
McCain’s unavailability for a vote made it all but impossible this week for McConnell to muster enough votes to pass the Better Care Act. Although the GOP controls the Senate by a 52-48 margin, Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) have said they won’t sign the bill as it is now. The only way to victory for McConnell is convincing all 51 of his other fellow Republicans to support the measure – assuming that Vice President Mike Pence casts the deciding vote in favor.
That won’t be easy, given that eight to 10 Republican senators “have serious concerns about this bill,” Collins told CNN’s “State of the Union,” citing opposition to major cuts to Medicaid, which she said would harm rural hospitals and nursing homes.
“I don’t know whether it will pass, but I do know this, we should not be making fundamental changes in a vital safety net program that’s been on the books for 50 years – the Medicaid program – without having a single hearing to evaluate what the consequences are going to be,” Collins said.
For his part, Paul said the BCA “terrible” because it retained many Obamacare taxes and subsidies.
“I think the longer the bill’s out there, the more conservative Republicans are going to discover that it’s not repeal,”he said on Fox News Sunday. “And the more that everybody’s going to discover that it keeps the fundamental flaw of ObamaCare.”
The bill, Paul said, keeps insurance mandates that “cause the prices to rise, which chase young, healthy people out of the marketplace.”
“And leads to what people call adverse selection, where you have a sicker and sicker insurance pool and the premiums keep rising through the roof,” he said, The Hill reported. “And one of the amazing things to me is, for all the complaints of Republicans about ObamaCare, we keep that fundamental flaw.
“The current system is terrible,” Paul said. “I don’t think Republicans should put their name on this. It is a bad political strategy and it will not fix the problem.”
The bill unwinds Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion over three years, from 2021 to 2024 and imposes drastic cuts to Medicaid that deepen in 2025. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated the bill would cut Medicaid by nearly $800 billion by 2026 and would cut Medicaid 35% come 2036.
“We need Sen. McCain in more ways than one. As soon as we have a full contingent of senators we will have that vote,” Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas) told NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Material from Reuters was used in this report.