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 administration weakens methane pollution standards for drilling on public lands Another recession could hit US in 2019, says credit union association chief R-E-S-P-E-C-T: One legacy of Franklin and McCain is up to us MORE (R-Ariz.) said he would vote against the bill.

McCain is the second Republican, following Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulConservatives left frustrated as Congress passes big spending bills Senate approves 4B spending bill Some employees' personal data revealed in State Department email breach: report MORE (Ky.), to announce his opposition to the bill spearheaded by GOP Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin Graham GOP senator: Kavanaugh accuser 'moving the goalposts' Collins: Kavanaugh accuser should 'reconsider,' testify on Monday Grassley willing to send staff to California to speak with Kavanaugh accuser MORE (S.C) and Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyOvernight Health Care: Senators target surprise medical bills | Group looks to allow Medicaid funds for substance abuse programs | FDA launches anti-vaping campaign for teens Bipartisan senators unveil proposal to crack down on surprise medical bills Outdated global postal system hurts US manufacturers MORE (La.).

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellKey GOP senators appear cool to Kavanaugh accuser's demand Trump hints at new executive action on immigration, wants filibuster-proof Senate majority The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — The Hill interviews President Trump 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 sisters with history of opposing Pence donate millions to Dems Hillicon Valley: Trump signs off on sanctions for election meddlers | Russian hacker pleads guilty over botnet | Reddit bans QAnon forum | FCC delays review of T-Mobile, Sprint merger | EU approves controversial copyright law Overnight Defense: Trump marks 9/11 anniversary | Mattis says Assad 'has been warned' on chemical weapons | US identifies first remains of returned Korean war troops MORE could provide the tie-breaking 51st vote for repeal.

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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 CollinsCollins: My office has gotten 'pretty ugly voicemails, threats' over Kavanaugh The Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh Budowsky: Kavanaugh and the rights of women MORE (R-Maine) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiThe Memo: Tide turns on Kavanaugh Budowsky: Kavanaugh and the rights of women Key GOP senators appear cool to Kavanaugh accuser's demand 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 AlexanderOvernight Health Care: Senators target surprise medical bills | Group looks to allow Medicaid funds for substance abuse programs | FDA launches anti-vaping campaign for teens The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by United Against Nuclear Iran — Kavanaugh confirmation in sudden turmoil Cruz gets help from Senate GOP in face of serious challenge from O’Rourke MORE (R-Tenn.) pulled the plug on negotiations on Tuesday after it appeared momentum was building for Graham-Cassidy. House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanElection Countdown: Trump confident about midterms in Hill.TV interview | Kavanaugh controversy tests candidates | Sanders, Warren ponder if both can run | Super PACs spending big | Two states open general election voting Friday | Latest Senate polls On The Money: Midterms to shake up House finance panel | Chamber chief says US not in trade war | Mulvaney moving CFPB unit out of DC | Conservatives frustrated over big spending bills Nancy Pelosi: Will she remain the ‘Face of the Franchise’? 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 MurrayJudiciary Democrat calls for additional witnesses to testify on Kavanaugh Kavanaugh allegations set stage for Anita Hill sequel Time for action to improve government data analysis 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 WydenWyden says foreign hackers targeted personal accounts of senators, staffers Some employees' personal data revealed in State Department email breach: report Hillicon Valley: North Korean IT firm hit with sanctions | Zuckerberg says Facebook better prepared for midterms | Big win for privacy advocates in Europe | Bezos launches B fund to help children, homeless 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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