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 McCainTrump's dangerous Guantánamo fixation will fuel fire for terrorists Tech beefs up lobbying amid Russia scrutiny Ad encourages GOP senator to vote 'no' on tax bill MORE (R-Ariz.) said he would vote against the bill.

McCain is the second Republican, following Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulCongress must end American support for Saudi war in Yemen Black men get longer prison sentences than white men for same crimes: study Sarah Palin on sexual harassment: 'People know I'm probably packing' so they 'don't mess with me' MORE (Ky.), to announce his opposition to the bill spearheaded by GOP Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamAlabama election has GOP racing against the clock Graham on Moore: 'We are about to give away a seat' key to Trump's agenda Tax plans show Congress putting donors over voters MORE (S.C) and Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyTrump met Senate Republicans on ObamaCare fix Senate GOP tax bill will include repeal of ObamaCare mandate Alabama GOP chair warns party officials against write-in campaign MORE (La.).

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellAlabama election has GOP racing against the clock McConnell PAC demands Moore return its money Klobuchar taking over Franken's sexual assault bill 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 PenceSome WH aides anxious over Russia probe despite reassurances from Trump lawyer: report Paul Krugman unwittingly fulfills fiscal fantasies for Republicans Ex-Pence aide on Rosie: She promised to leave US if Trump won and she's still here 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 CollinsStates fill family caregiver void left by Congress GOP senator: ObamaCare fix could be in funding bill Collins: Pass bipartisan ObamaCare bills before mandate repeal MORE (R-Maine) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiSenate bill would cut EPA funding by 0M GOP senator: ObamaCare fix could be in funding bill Collins: Pass bipartisan ObamaCare bills before mandate repeal 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 AlexanderGOP senator: ObamaCare fix could be in funding bill Collins: Pass bipartisan ObamaCare bills before mandate repeal Murkowski: ObamaCare fix not a precondition for tax vote MORE (R-Tenn.) pulled the plug on negotiations on Tuesday after it appeared momentum was building for Graham-Cassidy. House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanDem: Ex-lawmaker tried to pin me to elevator door and kiss me Two months later: Puerto Rico doesn’t have power, education or economy running again On Capitol Hill, few name names on sexual harassment 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 MurrayGOP senator: ObamaCare fix could be in funding bill Collins: Pass bipartisan ObamaCare bills before mandate repeal Murkowski: ObamaCare fix not a precondition for tax vote 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 WydenCongress faces growing health care crisis in Puerto Rico Photos of the Week: Nov. 13-17 Senate panel approves GOP tax plan 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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