WASHINGTON — A week that Senate Republicans had hoped would mobilize conservatives and shore up support for their measure to repeal the Affordable Care Act instead ended with eroding enthusiasm, as usually reliable Republican senators from red states blanched at its impact on rural communities.
With Congress set to return on Monday after a week’s recess, Republican lawmakers are increasingly aware that their seven-year promise to dismantle President Barack Obama’s largest policy achievement is deeply imperiled. Senator John Hoeven, Republican of North Dakota, signaled this week that he would not vote for the bill as written, following negative remarks from other senators with large poor and rural populations. That was the 10th defection.
Three other Republican senators, Bob Corker of Tennessee, Charles E. Grassley of Iowa and John Boozman of Arkansas, have withheld their support, although they have not declared their opposition, and others have largely remained silent.
Mr. Grassley told voters on Friday that he was unsure if he would vote for the Senate Republican bill in its current form, according to The Des Moines Register. “I don’t even know if we’re going to get a bill up,” said Mr. Grassley, an expert on health policy and taxes who has been in Congress for more than 40 years.
In small counties, rural hospitals and other health care providers are often the largest employers, and after years of railing against Mr. Obama’s law, Republican senators are now grappling with the impact of its possible demise.
“I am a product of rural Kansas,” Senator Jerry Moran, Republican of Kansas, told constituents this week. “I understand the value of a hospital in your community, of a physician in your town, of a pharmacy on Main Street.”
Senator Jerry Moran on Thursday faced constituents in Palco, Kan., who were upset that the health law might be repealed. Credit Chad Pilster for The New York Times
Well short of the 50 votes needed to pass his bill, Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky, the majority leader, repeated his fears this week that his party may be stuck tweaking the Affordable Care Act with Democrats. He raised the prospects of a bipartisan fallback last week on the driveway of the White House, and again on Thursday in Glasgow, Ky.
If Republicans cannot pass a bill on their own, they may need to work with Democrats on short-term measures to stabilize insurance markets that, by their account, are on the verge of collapse in many states.
Paul Ryan: Not My Problem 22 Million Will CHOOSE To Lose Healthcare
Now that it is pretty clear that R's dont have the ability to do anything on their own, which is because they never did the work, lately because thy were sure that Trump would lose, if the D's were decent people they would offer to pitch in and work on keeping the collapsing of OBamaCare from hurting the nation more than it must.
I dont expect it, because when was the last time these assholes put the best interests of the nation above their fantasies of winning elections the next time?
As Republicans lawmakers frantically attempt to piece together a passable health bill to repeal and replace Obamacare, the American people continue to declare that they overwhelmingly prefer the current law to its Republican alternatives.
According to a new Fox News poll, only 27 percent of the American public views the Senate’s health care bill favorably — with a mere 11 percent strongly approving of it — confirming a growing trend of unpopularity for the Better Care Reconciliation Act.
Meanwhile, the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans are so adamant about repealing, is increasing in popularity, with a 52 percent approval rating. Ever since Republicans ramped up their efforts to repeal Obamacare, the ACA has become more popular than before.
Over the past months, former President Barack Obama’s signature health care legislation has consistently registered higher approval ratings from the American public than President Donald Trump, House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI), and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY). Only 36 percent of Americans approve of the way Trump has handled the health care debate, the same Fox News poll found.
In a way, it’s no surprise: The Republican-led government has been mired in Trump’s scandals and legislative stalemates. On health care, the Republican alternatives to Obamacare have consisted of two bills that would cost more than 20 million people their health insurance, according to estimates by the Congressional Budget Office.
It’s a bad sign for Republican lawmakers, many of whom have spent the past seven years campaigning on repealing Obamacare but have struggled to find a proposal that could a) pass Congress and b) be welcomed by the American public.
The Senate bill in its current form doesn’t have enough support among Senate Republicans to pass Congress’s upper chamber. Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) has proposed some changes that could possibly thread the needle between warring factions of the party, but they still include massive cuts to Medicaid, which have proven to play unfavorably with the American public.
The Democrats are watching closely; with hopes to regain control of the House of Representatives in 2018, congressional candidates have already begun framing their attacks around the growing health care fight.
(CNN) — Two more Republican senators announced Monday that they would oppose a procedural step to advance GOP leadership's health care bill, preventing Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell from moving forward with plans to repeal and replace Obamacare.
Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Jerry Moran of Kansas separately announced their opposition to the revised health bill, and will vote no on the motion that would allow it to go to the floor.
McConnell could only afford to lose two senators and still advance the legislation, and as of last week, he'd already lost Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Rand Paul of Kentucky.
"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.
Republicans trying to get the Better Care Reconciliation Act passed through the Senate could have their plans thwarted by the chamber's rules.
The Senate parliamentarian said Friday that major provisions of the Republican legislation would require 60 votes to advance, putting the already troubled legislation in further peril.
Passed in 1985, the Byrd rule says that any bill going through the budget reconciliation process — like the BCRA — can be blocked on the grounds that it contains an "extraneous matter" or something "merely incidental" to the federal budget.
The budget-reconciliation maneuver through which the GOP hopes to move the BCRA allows a bill that adjusts the federal budget to pass through the Senate with a simple 50-vote majority to avoid a filibuster. Any other legislation needs 60 votes to avoid a filibuster.
Key parts of the bill — including a plan to defund Planned Parenthood, restricting federal tax credits from being used for abortions, and a provision that would make people wait six months for health insurance if they have a lapse in coverage — all require 60 votes, according to the Senate parliamentarian. Republicans currently have 52 seats in the Senate.
"Should the Senate proceed to the bill, these provisions may be struck from the legislation absent 60 votes," the Senate budget office said.
Here are all the parts of the BCRA that could put the bill in jeopardy
•The plan to defund Planned Parenthood
•A provision that would restrict the use of tax credits for abortions.
•Getting rid of the essential health benefits for Medicaid in 2020.
•How the bill deals with cost-sharing subsidies
•The section that locks individuals out of the insurance marketplace for six months if they don't have continuous coverage.
•The medical loss ratio.
•The provision that allows states that haven't used all of their block grants for health coverage for non-health purposes.
•Changes to the Medicaid waiver system by prioritizing HCBS waivers.
•A provision that requires a report regarding CMS-64 and Transformed Medicaid Statistical Information System data
The White House-health care huddle came just hours before Trump savaged Senate Republicans in a series of Saturday tweets for failing to repeal Obamacare. If the Senate doesn't pass a bill soon, Trump warned, he may halt Obamacare payments subsidizing health plans for low-income individuals — an idea adamantly opposed by Republicans and Democrats alike.
Trump also appeared to take a personal shot at lawmakers, seemingly warning that he could revoke their own health benefits on the exchanges.
"If a new HealthCare Bill is not approved quickly, BAILOUTS for Insurance Companies and BAILOUTS for Members of Congress will end very soon!" Trump tweeted Saturday afternoon.
Trump seemed optimistic about moving forward on the bill on Friday after the shocking setback this week appeared to cripple his legislative agenda, according to a White House official. Yet several senior Republican Senate aides and allies of GOP leaders cautioned against any feelings of momentum coming from the White House on Saturday, particularly after Trump again instructed Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to change the Senate rules to a simple majority and gut the legislative filibuster.
McConnell has resisted such a suggestion publicly and has been pushing back against Trump privately, according to people familiar with their interactions. One person close to McConnell said Trump has asked McConnell personally to change the rules but said no.
During his Saturday tweet-storm, Trump blamed the arcane budget reconciliation rules that make it more difficult to fully repeal and replace Obamacare on party lines.
“The very outdated filibuster rule must go. Budget reconciliation is killing R's in Senate. Mitch M, go to 51 Votes NOW and WIN. IT'S TIME!” Trump said. “Republicans in the Senate will NEVER win if they don't go to a 51 vote majority NOW. They look like fools and are just wasting time.”
Senate rules don’t appear to be the problem. From the “skinny repeal” bill to a McConnell designed replacement bill to a so-called “clean” repeal bill, all GOP efforts failed to get 50 votes in the Senate this week. After the GOP’s failure to move forward on Friday, McConnell asked Senate Democrats for their ideas on healthcare and warned against bailing out insurance companies. Some Republican senators want to move on from the partisan effort and start looking at fixes to the law's insurance exchanges with Senate Democrats.