Senate Republicans were forced to delay a vote on the Obamacare repeal bill after Sen. John McCain announced Friday that he'll be spending the week at home to recover from surgery. It's a setback for the Republican health care bill, the passage of which was uncertain even before the Arizona senator announced that he wouldn't be present to vote on Thursday. But, McCain's surgery should be a wake-up call to Republicans who plan on supporting the bill, considering how it would affect Americans who find themselves in McCain's position.
As Vox's Julia Belluz writes, McCain's health scare is "the perfect reminder of just how critical insurance can be — and how much protection from health emergencies Americans stand to lose with the Better Care Reconciliation Act," the official name of the GOP health care bill. According to the senator's office, the blood clot in McCain's eye was found during a routine physical; Zack Ford at ThinkProgress notes that physicals are "a type of preventative care that was expanded under Obamacare and threatens to be limited under Trumpcare."
"I'm thrilled my taxes are paying for Senator McCain's healthcare so he can get healthy to cast a vote to take away taxpayers' healthcare," the editor of a progressive feminist blog called Shakesville wrote on Twitter.
Mitch McConnell has to delay taking healthcare from American taxpayers until after John McCain has surgery, paid for by American taxpayers.— John Fugelsang (@JohnFugelsang) July 16, 2017
There are a few reasons why it's so ironic for McCain, who is publicly undecided on the health care bill, to delay this vote due to a health issue. For one, as mentioned earlier, his medical issue was discovered during a routine physical. But the Republican legislation will potentially limit Americans' access to preventative care, such as physicals, as it would allow states to opt out of the provision that guarantees preventative care in health care plans — that is, Obamacare's 10 Essential Benefits.
Likewise, Belluz observed that, because of how last-minute the announcement was, it seems as if McCain is getting emergency surgery — though, to be clear, his staff hasn't said this. If that were the case, it would add another level of irony to the situation, because emergency surgery, too, is one of the 10 Essential Benefits that the GOP bill threatens to take away.
McCain clot discovered during annual physical-You know, those things that people without health insurance don't get. https://t.co/LwKbK8VPAC— Lisa Gerrish (@GerrishLisa) July 16, 2017
More broadly, the Republican health care bill — at least, the most recent version scored by the Congressional Budget Office — would kick around 22 million Americans off of their insurance plans over the next 10 years. Many of those plans cover both preventive services and emergency surgeries, and those folks would be cut off from those services if the Republican bill passes.
It's also worth noting that McCain, as a U.S. senator, has his health care paid for by his employer — the American taxpayers. And many of those who would lose health insurance under the Republican bill are .... the American taxpayers.
The sheer absurdity of the situation — Republicans canceling a vote on a bill that would take health care away from millions of people because one of the Republicans has a health emergency that his health care covers — is impossible to ignore, and should give the rest of the Senate Republican caucus pause before voting on this bill.