Week ahead in health care: ObamaCare repeal bill hanging by a thread

Week ahead in health care: ObamaCare repeal bill hanging by a thread
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Senate Republicans' last-ditch effort to repeal and replace ObamaCare this year were dealt a major blow Friday when Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainRand Paul ‘concerned’ about Kavanaugh Senate Dems tell Trump: Don't meet with Putin one-on-one McConnell: Senate to confirm Kavanaugh by Oct. 1 MORE (R-Ariz.) said he would vote against the bill.

McCain is the second Republican, following Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulRand Paul ‘concerned’ about Kavanaugh Rand Paul on Russia indictments: We should focus on protecting elections instead of 'witch hunt on the president' Sunday shows preview: Trump readies for meeting with Putin MORE (Ky.), to announce his opposition to the bill spearheaded by GOP Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamOvernight Health Care: Watchdog finds Tom Price improperly used funds on flights | Ex-Novartis CEO sent drug pricing proposal to Cohen | HHS staffers depart after controversial social media posts HHS staffers depart after controversial social media posts: report Senate takes symbolic shot at Trump tariffs MORE (S.C) and Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyGOP senators introduce resolution endorsing ICE Lawmakers pitch dueling plans for paid family leave New push to break deadlock on paid family leave MORE (La.).

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellDoug Jones walks tightrope on Supreme Court nominee Kavanaugh gets questionnaires for confirmation hearing Dem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick MORE (R-Ky.) had aimed for a vote in the coming week but those plans are now up in the air. With only a 52-48 majority in the Senate, GOP leaders cannot afford to lose a third vote. If they can hold on to the rest of the caucus, Vice President Mike PenceMichael (Mike) Richard PenceIndiana has spent over million on cleanup of failed Pence family gas stations: report What really happened with the breastfeeding scandal in Geneva Pence heckled over Trump immigration policy: 'Where are the children?' MORE could provide the tie-breaking 51st vote for repeal.


Pence on Friday insisted the White House was undeterred and urged GOP senators to "keep their word" to the American people and vote for repeal.

But the odds look daunting for supporters of the repeal bill.

Sens. Susan CollinsSusan Margaret CollinsDem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick McConnell: Senate to confirm Kavanaugh by Oct. 1 Overnight Health Care: Watchdog finds Tom Price improperly used funds on flights | Ex-Novartis CEO sent drug pricing proposal to Cohen | HHS staffers depart after controversial social media posts MORE (R-Maine) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiDem infighting erupts over Supreme Court pick McConnell: Senate to confirm Kavanaugh by Oct. 1 Overnight Energy: House to vote on anti-carbon tax measure | Dem says EPA obstructed 'politically charged' FOIA requests | GOP looks to overhaul endangered species law MORE (R-Alaska) joined McCain as the three Republicans who voted against the last repeal bill in July. Collins has already said she is leaning against, while Murkowski is undecided but expressed concerns with Graham-Cassidy.

Time is also running out for GOP leaders, who face a Saturday Sept. 30 deadline to pass a repeal bill under the reconciliation fast-track process, which allows them to avoid a Democratic filibuster.

McCain didn't express concerns about the policy of the legislation, but complained the legislation had been rushed to the floor without going through the normal committee process.

"I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal. I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried," McCain said in a statement.

He urged colleagues to try to craft a bipartisan bill using "regular order."

The Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on the Graham-Cassidy bill Monday afternoon. Witnesses have yet to be announced.

Top Senate Democrats left the door open to revising efforts to pass a bipartisan to stabilize ObamaCare markets, but its unclear if Republicans will back those calls.

The Senate health committee held a number of hearings after lawmakers returned from the August recess. But Senate Health Committee Chairman Lamar AlexanderAndrew (Lamar) Lamar AlexanderSens introduce bipartisan bill matching Zinke proposed maintenance backlog fix Supreme Court vacancy throws Senate battle into chaos Overnight Health Care: Anti-abortion groups see chance to overturn Roe v. Wade with Kennedy retirement | HHS watchdog to probe detention center conditions | VA pick vows to oppose privatization MORE (R-Tenn.) pulled the plug on negotiations on Tuesday after it appeared momentum was building for Graham-Cassidy. House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanGOP leaders jockey for affection of House conservatives Five GOP lawmakers mulling bid to lead conservative caucus On The Money — Sponsored by Prudential — Trump walks back criticism of UK Brexit strategy | McConnell worries US in 'early stages' of trade war | US trade deficit with China hits new record MORE (R-Wis.) and the White House had also warned they would not back a bill they characterized as a "bailout" for insurers.

"During the last month, we have worked hard and in good faith, but have not found the necessary consensus among Republicans and Democrats to put a bill in the Senate leaders' hands that could be enacted," Alexander had said.

The top Democrat on the health committee, Sen. Patty MurrayPatricia (Patty) Lynn MurrayDems launch pressure campaign over migrant families Jane Fonda: Kavanaugh confirmation would be a 'catastrophe' Dems rip Trump DOJ nominee who represented Russian bank MORE (R-Wash.), is urging Republicans to return to the table.

"I'm still at the table ready to keep working, and I remain confident that we can reach a bipartisan agreement as soon as this latest partisan approach by Republican leaders is finally set aside," she said Friday.

The fate of ObamaCare repeal will dominate the coming week, but there are other health care priorities as well.

The Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP), as well as funding for community health centers and Medicare extenders, is set to lapse on Sept. 30 if Congress doesn't reauthorize the programs.

The Senate Finance Committee announced a deal on a five-year reauthorization of CHIP, but passage is far from assured.

Text of the legislation was released just before Cassidy-Graham began gaining steam, and has not been through a committee markup. There's also been little discussion about how to pay for the renewal, which is a key sticking point.

A Senate aide said Sen. Ron WydenRonald (Ron) Lee WydenDems launch pressure campaign over migrant families Senators urge DOJ to probe whether Russians posed as Islamic extremist hackers to harass US military families Dems say new emails show Cohen ‘selling access’ to White House MORE (D-Ore.), the ranking member on the Finance Committee, was willing to "work towards a solution that secures CHIP for years to come" once the Graham-Cassidy bill is defeated.

The House was out of session for the past week and has yet to release a bill.


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Graham reaffirms friendship with McCain despite opposition to ObamaCare repeal

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