Healthcare

McConnell: Senate will try to repeal ObamaCare with delayed replacement

Greg Nash

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) said on Monday night the Senate will try to separate the ObamaCare repeal and replacement efforts, closing the door on the current GOP healthcare legislation. 

“In the coming days, the Senate will vote to take up the House bill with the first amendment in order being what a majority of the Senate has already supported in 2015 and that was vetoed by then-President Obama: a repeal of Obamacare with a two-year delay to provide for a stable transition period,” McConnell said in a statement. 

The move means Senate Republicans will try to repeal ObamaCare now, while kicking a replacement until after the 2018 midterm elections.

{mosads}The 2015 ObamaCare repeal bill passed the Senate 52-47, with Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) and then-Sen. Mark Kirk (Ill.) the only Republicans to oppose it. 

McConnell will need to overcome procedural hurdles if he wants the Senate to get to a vote on a repeal-only proposal. He’ll need at least 51 senators to support getting on the House-passed legislation, which is being used as a vehicle for any Senate action. 

And separating the two could force Republicans to get 60 votes — and the support of Democrats — on the replacement legislation. 

It wasn’t immediately clear when the Senate would try to pass the repeal legislation. The upper chamber is expected to be in session until Aug. 11, when members will leave town until early September.

McConnell’s announcement comes after GOP Sens. Mike Lee (Utah) and Jerry Moran (Kan.) said Monday night that they couldn’t support the current legislation, known as the Better Care Reconciliation Act.

With a 52-seat majority McConnell can only afford to lose two GOP senators and still rely on Vice President Mike Pence break a tie. GOP Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Rand Paul (Ky.) were already expected to oppose the legislation. 

With four Republican senators opposed to the current GOP bill, McConnell officially closed the door on the legislation late Monday night. 

“Regretfully, it is now apparent that the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare will not be successful,” he said. 

It remains to be seen if McConnell will be able to wrangle enough support to repeal ObamaCare without a replacement plan hashed out. 

Repeal with a delayed replacement was Senate GOP leadership’s original plan, which they backed away from earlier this year due to lack of support.  

McConnell himself shot down the idea earlier this month, instead warning that Republicans could be forced to work with Democrats to stabilize the insurance market. 

“We are going to stick with that path,” McConnell said at an event in Kentucky earlier this month. “Failure has to be possible or you can’t have success.”

But even as McConnell continued to push back against separating ObamaCare repeal and replacement, moving a repeal-only bill gained the support of President Trump and a growing number of conservative senators. 

“Republicans should just REPEAL failing ObamaCare now & work on a new Healthcare Plan that will start from a clean slate. Dems will join in!” Trump tweeted on Monday night after Lee and Moran’s statements.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) — who teamed up with Lee and Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) earlier this year to demand “full repeal” — quickly added on Twitter: “As @realDonaldTrump and I discussed last week. Clean repeal now!”

Repealing portions of ObamaCare without enacting a replacement could leave 18 million people without health insurance the following year, according to a report released Congressional Budget Office (CBO) in January.

After the elimination of ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion and insurance subsidies, 27 million people would lose insurance, and then 32 million by 2026, the CBO found.

The 2015 measure guts the law by repealing authority for the federal government to run healthcare exchanges and scrapping subsidies to help people afford plans bought through those exchanges. It zeros out the penalties on individuals who do not buy insurance and employers who do not offer health insurance.

The push to separate repeal and replacement comes after some GOP senators used the setback on the Senate bill to instead argue for a bipartisan process, with open hearings.
 
“The Congress must now return to regular order, hold hearings, receive input from members of both parties, and heed the recommendations of our nation’s governors so that we can produce a bill that finally provides Americans with access to quality and affordable health care,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said in a statement. 
 
Moran, in announcing his opposition, also said senators should “start fresh with an open legislative process.”
 
Meanwhile, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) put forward a third approach on Monday night, a bill he recently proposed with Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) to give states a chunk of money and let them decide whether to keep much of ObamaCare or try something new.
Tags Jerry Moran John McCain Lindsey Graham Mark Kirk Mike Lee Mike Pence Mitch McConnell Rand Paul Susan Collins Ted Cruz

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