A Republican attempt to repeal Obamacare has collapsed, with the party divided over the contents of a new health-care bill. President Trump had been pushing for a legislative win to call his own.
“Regretfully, it is now apparent that the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare will not be successful,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (above) said in a statement Monday night.
The failure to pass the bill marks a humiliating defeat for Republicans, who have sought desperately to fulfill President Donald Trump’s campaign pledge to dismantle the 2010 health-care reforms of his predecessor Barack Obama.
Republicans currently hold 52 seats in the upper chamber, giving the party a slim two-seat majority over their Democratic colleagues. McConnell had needed at least 50 of his Republican senators to support the “Trumpcare” bill.
But Republican senators Mike Lee (Utah) and Jerry Moran’s (Kansas) late Monday announcement that they would join Senators Susan Collins (Maine) and Rand Paul (Kentucky) in opposing the bill effectively killed any remaining chance for the legislation to be passed. A vote had been expected as early as next week.
McConnell already had delayed the vote on the bill in the previous days due to the Senate absence of Republican John McCain (Arizona) who is recovering from surgery and whose vote would have been needed to pass the proposed repeal-and-replace legislation. After Lee and Moran’s announcements, McCain himself called for a new start on the initiative.
The Congressional Budget Office (CBO), a non-partisan federal financial analysis agency, had yet to provide the figures for the cost and the number of potentially uninsured Americans that the now-dead bill would have caused. However, the CBO’s review of an earlier draft found that the proposed changes would have caused 22 million Americans to become uninsured by 2026, with some low-income individuals priced out of being able to afford health insurance.
The reason for the CBO’s postponement was not known.
Moving fowards by going backwards?
McConnell revised the bill last week as he attempted to navigate a tricky divide within the Republican party and win support from critical senators who had been holding out on a “yes” vote either because the bill went too far or did not go far enough.
The bill’s main points included repealing the tax penalities on individuals who do not buy insurance and cuts to federal funding of Medicaid, which helps cover health-care costs for the poor and disabled. It would have kept Obamacare’s taxes on the wealthy, but eliminated them on insurers, medical device manufacturers and others.