These Senators' Reasons For Killing The Health Care Bill Aren't Encouraging
On Monday evening, two more Senate Republicans announced that they would not be supporting the revised Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), essentially "killing" the bill. However, while this decision did help halt the passage of a bill that could cause millions to lose health insurance, the rationale behind the decision-making of the senators who helped kill the health care bill was not centered on concerns about loss of coverage. Rather, some of the senators believed the health care bill didn't go far enough to repeal all aspects of Obamacare.
Republican Senators Jerry Moran and Mike Lee both announced that they would not be supporting the revised BCRA on Monday evening and released short statements explaining their respective decisions. Moran's statement indicated that he was concerned that the revised BCRA did not "repeal" Obamacare — a long-held Republican party goal. He also expressed concern that maintaining federal involvement in healthcare could cause the United States to eventually evolve into a single-payer health care system, which would lie counter to conservative policy preferences. Moran also indicated that he did not believe the bill sufficiently addressed the rising cost of health care.
For his part, Lee also cited concerns that the BCRA did not go far enough to repeal Obamacare and explained that he came to his decision after thoroughly reading an amendment recently added to the bill — the revised "Consumer Freedom Amendment." The amendment allows insurers to offer skimpy plans with few benefits as long as they also offer fully Obamacare-compliant policies as well. The revised amendment is based on an amendment initially developed by Senator Ted Cruz and Lee, though Lee did not contribute to developing the new language for the amendment. So, he decided he could not support the bill with the revised language.
Lee further noted that he is withholding his support for the BCRA because it does not repeal "all Obamacare taxes" and that it does not do enough to address high health care costs.
In addition to Lee and Moran, Republican Senators Rand Paul and Susan Collins have also helped "kill" the BCRA by announcing their respective intentions to vote against it, though Paul's and Collins' stances were known and established well before those of Lee and Moran.
Similarly to Lee and Moran, Paul criticized the revised BCRA for not fully repealing Obamacare, explaining to an NBC reporter, "I ran on repealing Obamacare. If it doesn't repeal Obamacare ... I can't be for that." Cruz also noted that he took issue with the bill's provision of stabilization funding for insurance markets, which helps insurers cover high-cost patients.
Collins is the only Republican senator who has diverged slightly from her colleagues in terms of her rationale for not supporting the revised BCRA. Instead of expressing concern that the bill did not sufficiently repeal Obamacare, Collins instead cited worries about the number of Americans that would lose health insurance — particularly Medicaid coverage— if the bill passed.
Overall, it appears that many Senate Republicans, save Collins, chose to withdraw their support from the revised healthcare legislation out of frustration that the bill did not go far enough to dismantle Obamacare — and seemingly not out of concern about coverage changes that would affect health care for millions of Americans. Taking a closer look at the rationale behind Republicans' decision-making is certainly insightful, to say the very least.