On Monday evening, Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell gave in to anti-AHCA pressure, putting out a statement to the effect that “the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare will not be successful.” His plan thereafter was to focus on outright repealing the ACA for now, with a replacement to be developed “later”—but this new strategy is already facing serious opposition.
In recent weeks, Senators had to decide whether to vote on new legislation designed to repeal and replace Obamacare. One of the biggest changes under this new bill would have been to allow Obamacare-participating insurers to also offer much cheaper and much more basic plans. This adjustment was done to elevate support from conservatives but did little to assuage moderates, who feared that the amendment could raise prices for patients with pre-existing conditions. Somewhat surprisingly, the revised version of the bill would have kept Obamacare-era taxes on those with larger incomes, contrary to initial plans to get rid of those taxes. The bill would also have made significant cuts to Medicaid, thereby leaving 15 million people uninsured by 2026. Republicans said that this revised bill will produce around $70 million in extra funds, which individual states could use for reducing premiums and making healthcare more affordable.
Healthcare experts fear that healthy consumers would be transferred to regular and cheap health care plans, which would force older/sicker citizens to purchase much more expensive plans. Republican leaders added billions of dollars to attempt to make up for the rising costs, but these revisions did not assuage experts’ concerns.
Senate Majority leader Mitch McConnell needed 50 out of 52 votes in order to pass the bill, but two senators—Senator Collins from Maine and Senator Paul from Kentucky—almost immediately stated their dislike of the new bill, and two more have just announced they will not be voting for this bill. The two recent Senators to drop out of voting on the bill are Utah Senator Mike Lee and Jerry Moran of Kansas. For seven years now, the Republican Senate has promised to overturn President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, but until the Senate votes on a new bill, there will be no repealing of Obamacare. Republican leaders have two options left for their next move: they can chose to rewrite the bill to secure 50 votes, or they can collaborate with Democrats to repair flaws in the ACA.
Earlier this week, President Trump took to Twitter to restate his hatred of the Affordable Care Act: “Republicans should just REPEAL failing Obamacare now & work on a new Healthcare Plan that will start from a clean slate Dems will join in!”
The Republican Senate will continue attempts to repeal and replace Obamacare, but in the meantime, without the necessary support to pass a bill, their goal of striking the Affordable Care Act is looking increasingly unlikely.