Senate Rejects Repeal-Only Health Care Bill

WASHINGTON (CN) – The Republican-run Senate on Wednesday afternoon rejected a GOP proposal to repeal major parts of the Affordable Care Act without providing a replacement.

Seven Republicans joined all Democrats Wednesday in a 45-55 vote on an amendment by Rand Paul of Kentucky that would have repealed most of former President Obama’s health care law, with a two-year delay but no replacement.

The plan would have defunded Planned Parenthood and also included a provision that would have prevented people from claiming a tax credit on plans that cover most abortions.

The vote came less than a day after nine Republicans joined every Democrat in opposing a procedural objection against a modified version of a plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, which is more commonly known as Obamacare.

Republican Sens. Lamar Alexander, Shelley Moore Capito, Susan Collins, Dean Heller, John McCain, Lisa Murkowski and Rob Portman all voted against the measure, with Alexander being a somewhat surprising addition to the bloc opposing the repeal-only legislation.

In 2015, Alexander voted for a nearly identical measure that former President Barack Obama vetoed, but said the timing of the vote is different now.

“I agree with President Trump who said when we repeal Obamacare we ought to replace it at the same time,” Alexander told reporters. “In 2015 we might have been able to wait two years, but not now.”

Democrats did not bring a procedural objection to the amendment as they were expected to.  The objection, similar to the one that killed the Republican replacement plan last night, would have claimed the amendment violated budgetary rules specific to the reconciliation process, the special measure that Republicans are using to pass their health care legislation.

The most likely outcome after the two recent failures seems to be for Republicans to move to a “skinny repeal” bill, which would eliminate Obamacare’s individual and employer mandates as well as a tax on medical devices but leave the rest of the law in place.

Alexander told reporters that plan, a previous version of which the CBO said would leave 15 million more people without insurance than under current law, would be the best way to get the bill to a conference committee where lawmakers could iron out differences between the House version of the bill and whatever law the Senate passes.

“There best opportunity for a strong signal of stability is for us to succeed in the Senate, agree with the House and pass a legislation that addresses the Affordable Care Act problems this month,” Alexander told reporters.

Capito, R-W.Va., said she could not commit to voting for the skinny repeal plan without being able to see the text, which has not yet been released.

 

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