After weeks of work trying to push yet another Obamacare repeal across the finish line, it sounds as if the latest Senate GOP health care bill has collapsed. According to CNN's Dana Bash, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Republican senators agreed during lunch on Tuesday that the Graham-Cassidy health care bill should not come to a vote. Which means, in effect, that the GOP's Graham-Cassidy health care bill is officially dead ― for now, at the very least.
This is not a surprising outcome, but it'll nonetheless surely be a source of relief (even if only momentarily) to countless health care activists and advocates. Over the past couple of weeks, as South Carolina senator Lindsey Graham and Louisiana senator Bill Cassidy tried to advance their Affordable Care Act replacement to the floor of the senate, virtually every major health care organization in the country came out against it, as well as a groundswell of activists.
In short, there was a tremendous amount of concern and angst built up around the possibility of the bill's passage, owing to the fact that it would've left somewhere from 20 to 30 million fewer Americans with health insurance over the next ten years, with an estimated 15 million losing their insurance in 2018.
In recent days, it became clear that the bill was likely doomed. Kentucky senator Rand Paul came out against the bill very early in the process, on the grounds that it too closely resembled the ACA, and did not go far enough in stripping down the 2010 health care law.
That left the GOP only able to afford losing one more vote, given its 52-seat Senate majority. After Arizona senator John McCain came out against the bill, all eyes turned to the same two Republican women who helped scuttle the so-called "skinny repeal" bill back in July: Susan Collins of Maine, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska.
Although Murkowski hasn't confirmed whether she would or would not have voted for the bill, she's made it clear she was aggressively leaning towards voting "no." Collins, on the other hand, made her opposition official on Monday, which meant the Republicans would've had to rework the legislation to try to pick up one of the defectors.
But now, McConnell and the Senate leadership have apparently decided the bill can't be salvaged, and will not bring it to the floor. This brings Graham and Cassidy's efforts to an end, less than 24 hours after they did a live TV debate in support of their bill, against the likes of Vermont senator Bernie Sanders and Minnesota senator Amy Klobuchar.
It would be premature and ill-advised to assume that this is the last attempt the GOP will make to undo the ACA, however. After promising to repeal it for basically a full seven years of the Obama administration, and voting to do so literally dozens of times, it's clear that this is a cause many Republican senators aren't willing to let go.
In fact, there have already been multiple "health care repeal dead" headlines this year ― following the failure of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) in the House, the failure of the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) in the Senate, and the subsequent failure of the "skinny repeal."
While this is undeniably a defeat and a setback for the congressional GOP, in other words, the party has shown a reliable willingness to keep stringing this process along, preventing the ACA's supporters (and those people who's health and lives rely on it) from feeling comfortable about the future. It remains to be seen how eagerly or how quickly the Republicans will try for another bite at this apple, to be clear, but this is something to pay close attention to in the days and weeks to come.