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Senate majority leader, the Republic Senator from Kentucky, Mitch McConnell, is planning to introduce a bill, to the US Senate next week. The bill, nicknamed ‘Graham-Cassidy, will represent the Republican’s latest attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare.
The bill is named after the bill’s sponsors: the Republican Senator from South Carolina, Lindsey Graham, and the Republican Senator from Louisiana, Bill Cassidy. Republicans are under pressure to get the bill passed before the opportunity to pass it with a simple majority expires with the Reconciliation Bill on September 30th.
The objective of the Graham-Cassidy Bill is to abolish individual and employer insurance mandates and to increase the power of state governors to veto certain regulation in their state. Along with individual and employer mandate, it will eliminate:
- Medicaid expansion
- Cost-sharing subsidies
- Tax credits
And will make changes to:
- Traditional Medicaid
- Essential health benefits
- Price restrictions on older Americans
- Health savings account.
Under the Graham-Cassidy, Bill states will receive their Medicaid funding through block grants. This change will put an end to the Obamacare’s Medicaid program where states could have ninety-percent of their funding for new beneficiaries subsidized by Washington. This encouraged the states to expand their Medicaid programs to include individuals and families earning up to 138% of the Federal poverty level.
Under this new system, southern states that did not expand their Medicaid programs stand to receive more federal funding. Furthermore, the bill will also give greater power to the states by allowing them to spend their funding as they see fit.
The latest attempt to repeal and replace Obamacare has failed after a senate vote of 49/51. The defeat occurred after Republican Senator for Arizona, John McCain, Republican Senator for Maine, Susan Collins, and Republic Senator for Alaska, Lisa Murkowski crossed the floor to vote with the Democrats.
The latest attempt at repeal, known as ‘skinny repeal’, has been seen by many as a last ditch effort to repeal and replace certain elements of Obamacare. It was met with opposition from Democrats, the Congressional Budget Office – who claimed it would leave sixteen million people uninsured (presumably because they would no longer be forced to pay for health insurance), and health insurance companies – who claim that skinny repeal would be disastrous for the market.
In a statement, Senator McCain explained his reasons for voting against the repeal:
“While the amendment would have repealed some of Obamacare’s most burdensome regulations, it offered no replacement to actually reform our health care system and deliver affordable, quality health care to our citizens. The Speaker’s statement that the House would be ‘willing’ to go to conference does not ease my concern that this shell of a bill could be taken up and passed at any time.”
Both McCain and Murkowski supported a 2015 repeal and replace bill which was more extreme in its contents than the latest version. Collins, meanwhile, has never expressed any true desire to repeal and replace.
The mainstream media has responded to McCain’s decision by claiming that has “given a lot of Americans something to believe in.” President Trump responded by tweeting: “3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down. As I said from the beginning, let Obamacare implode, then deal. Watch!”
In the end, the latest defeat is not all doom and gloom. The fact that the latest vote was 49/51 shows how close the Republicans were to repealing and replacing Obamacare. It is perfectly possible for President Trump and other Republicans to find means to persuade McCain, Collins, and Murkowski to change their vote.
Monday night, Utah Republican Senator, Mike Lee, and Kansas Republican Senator, Jerry Moran, joined Kentucky Republican Senator, Rand Paul, and Maine Republican Senator, Susan Collins in announcing their refusal to support the motion to proceed on the latest Obamacare Replacement Bill.
Positively, the legislation would have axed individual mandates (which prevented health insurance companies from altering their rates based on the health of the individual), insurance subsidies, the expansion of Medicaid, and funding for Planned Parenthood.
The Republican mandate has faced strict opposition from both the Democrats and the public. According to an article published by National Review, the majority of the American public dislike individual mandates and desire lower health care costs over all health problems. In spite of this, however, the American public also dislikes attempts to roll-back coverage on pre-existing health conditions.
The Democrats, needless to say, have been overjoyed at the legislation’s failure. Vermont Senator, Bernie Sanders, stated: “I am delighted to see that the disastrous Republic health care plan will not succeed.” Meanwhile, the chair of the Democrat National Committee, Tom Perez, referred to the defeat as a “victory for human decency.”
Speaking from the White House, President Trump commented: “I am disappointed, very disappointed. For so many years I’ve been hearing ‘repeal and replace, let Obamacare fail and then everyone will have to come together to fix it.'” President Trump went on to say: “let Obamacare fail, it’ll be a lot easier, we’re not going to own it. I’m not going to own it. I can tell you Republicans are not going to own it. Let Obamacare fail and then Democrats are going to come to us asking ‘how do we fix it?'”
Republican responses to the failed legislation appear mixed, however. Senate majority leader, Mitch McConnell, has made an executive decision to revive the Republican’s 2015 Obamacare repeal bill (originally vetoed by President Obama). The bill would repeal Obamacare over two years. But, as a 2017 Congressional Budget Office report points out, the repeal would leave thirty-two million Americans uninsured by 2026.
Other Republicans, such as New Jersey Governor, Chris Christie, have suggested that President Trump abandon his focus on repealing and replacing of Obamacare and instead focus his energies on other priorities. In an interview with MSNBC, Christie commented: “I’d advise him to move on and move on to other priorities like tax reform and infrastructure. I’ve said that to the president for months. I don’t think there’s a will in Congress. I think they’ve shown that there’s no will in Congress for them to work with each other.”
In an attempt to find a solution to the issue, President Trump is planning to host a lunch at the White House with all fifty-two GOP Senators.