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 McCainMellman: Where are good faith and integrity? GOP senator says Republicans didn't control Senate when they held majority Pence met with silence after mentioning Trump in Munich speech MORE (R-Ariz.) said he would vote against the bill.

McCain is the second Republican, following Sen. Rand PaulRandal (Rand) Howard PaulThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump escalates fight with NY Times The 10 GOP senators who may break with Trump on emergency On unilateral executive action, Mitch McConnell was right — in 2014 MORE (Ky.), to announce his opposition to the bill spearheaded by GOP Sens. Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamFBI’s top lawyer believed Hillary Clinton should face charges, but was talked out of it Overnight Defense: Graham clashed with Pentagon chief over Syria | Talk grows that Trump will fire Coats | Coast Guard officer accused of domestic terrorism plot Graham cursed at acting DOD chief, declaring himself his 'adversary' MORE (S.C) and Bill CassidyWilliam (Bill) Morgan CassidyCongress must step up to protect Medicare home health care Ivanka Trump to meet with GOP senators to discuss paid family leave legislation Bipartisan senators ask industry for information on surprise medical bills MORE (La.).

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFox News has covered Ocasio-Cortez more than any 2020 Dem besides Warren: analysis Durbin after reading Green New Deal: 'What in the heck is this?' Dems think they're beating Trump in emergency declaration battle 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 PenceGrenell: Push to decriminalize homosexuality 'wildly supported' by both parties Marc Short to return to White House as Pence’s chief of staff China accuses US of trying to block development after Pence Huawei comments 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 CollinsTexas GOP rep opposes Trump’s use of national emergency to get border wall GOP Sen. Collins says she'll back resolution to block Trump's emergency declaration Talk grows that Trump will fire Dan Coats MORE (R-Maine) and Lisa MurkowskiLisa Ann MurkowskiGOP Sen. Collins says she'll back resolution to block Trump's emergency declaration The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump escalates fight with NY Times The 10 GOP senators who may break with Trump on emergency 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 Sen. Collins says she'll back resolution to block Trump's emergency declaration The Hill's 12:30 Report: Trump escalates fight with NY Times The 10 GOP senators who may break with Trump on emergency MORE (R-Tenn.) pulled the plug on negotiations on Tuesday after it appeared momentum was building for Graham-Cassidy. House Speaker Paul RyanPaul Davis RyanThe Hill's 12:30 Report: Sanders set to shake up 2020 race McCabe: No one in 'Gang of Eight' objected to FBI probe into Trump Unscripted Trump keeps audience guessing in Rose Garden 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 MurrayJohnson & Johnson subpoenaed by DOJ and SEC, company says Top Dems blast administration's proposed ObamaCare changes Overnight Health Care — Sponsored by America's 340B Hospitals — Dems blast rulemaking on family planning program | Facebook may remove anti-vaccine content | Medicare proposes coverage for new cancer treatment 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 WydenOvernight Health Care — Presented by National Taxpayers Union — Drug pricing fight centers on insulin | Florida governor working with Trump to import cheaper drugs | Dems blast proposed ObamaCare changes Top Dems blast administration's proposed ObamaCare changes Drug pricing fight centers on insulin 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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