The Republican Health Care Bill Might Officially Be Dead
Two more Republican senators have expressed their opposition to the latest GOP health care bill, effectively killing any chance the current version of the bill has of passing the Senate.
Sens. Mike Lee (R-Utah) and Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) announced on Monday evening that they plan to vote "no" on the motion to repeal and replace Obamacare with the Better Care Reconciliation Act.
Sen. Moran released a statement Monday afternoon:
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 also criticized the "closed-door" process that yielded the bill, and derided the plan's failure to "repeal the Affordable Care Act or address healthcare's rising costs."
Given that Republicans hold a slim 52-seat majority in the Senate, and no Democratic senators support the current version of the proposed health care plan, the bill has no chance of passing if more than three GOP senators vote against it. Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) have already confirmed that they do not support the bill, which puts the current tally of senators opposing the bill up to four.
The GOP-led effort to repeal Obamacare — which Republicans have been promising for the past seven years — has proved to be a difficult, if not impossible, task. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has struggled to draft legislation that appeals to both moderates and hard-line conservatives, both of which are essential to the passing of any new health care plan.
The latest version of the bill includes an amendment from Texas Sen. Ted Cruz that would allow insurers to offer cheap, bare-bone plans that do not comply with Affordable Care Act requirements, as long as they offer some plans that do. Although the Congressional Budget Office analysis of the bill has been delayed, experts worry that this amendment could amount to "junk insurance": plans that have low premiums but very high deductibles and out-of-pocket costs that will leave many unable to pay for medical care.
Despite numerous setbacks, McConnell has expressed a commitment to passing health care legislation. Earlier this month, he made the decision to delay the Senate's annual recess by two weeks so that the GOP could focus on fulfilling the campaign promise of passing a health care plan. But given the latest confirmed "no" votes, two weeks may not be enough to salvage the bill.