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GOP reeling after healthcare collapse

The Hill logo The Hill 7/18/2017 Peter Sullivan

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Video by Reuters America

Republicans offered competing ideas for what to do next on healthcare Monday night, now that the current ObamaCare replacement effort has fallen apart.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) acknowledged late Monday that the chamber's current approach would fail after two more senators announced opposition to the current healthcare draft.

Without the needed votes, he said, the Senate will take up a repeal-only bill that Congress passed in 2015.

"Regretfully, it is now apparent that the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare will not be successful," McConnell said in a statement.

The repeal-only approach is backed by conservatives, who say Congress should just pass again what it already approved in 2015.

President Trump joined the conservatives, tweeting Monday night: "Republicans should just REPEAL failing ObamaCare now & work on a new Healthcare Plan that will start from a clean slate. Dems will join in!"

But that bill does not appear to have the votes to pass, and other GOP lawmakers called Monday for working with Democrats or passing an alternative GOP bill.

A separate repeal was the initial GOP strategy at the beginning of this year, and ended up being rejected because it lacked the votes to pass.

Too many Republicans wanted to reassure their constituents that there would be a replacement at the same time, aimed at making sure people did not lose coverage.

"There must be a replace with repeal," Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-La.) wrote in The Washington Post last week.

In a finding that could unsettle moderates, the Congressional Budget Office previously found that the 2015 repeal-only bill would lead to 32 million more uninsured people over a decade, and an almost doubling of premiums.

But those concerns did not stop conservatives for calling for a clean repeal vote on Monday night.

"Clean repeal now!" tweeted Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.)

"Time for full repeal of #Obamacare--let's put the same thing on President Trump's desk that we put on President Obama's desk," added Rep. Mark Meadows (R-N.C.), chairman of the conservative House Freedom Caucus.

After delay, Senate Republicans struggle not to let healthcare stall © Provided by The Hill After delay, Senate Republicans struggle not to let healthcare stall In contrast, other Republicans called for working with Democrats on a new plan.

"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.

McCain is in Arizona recovering from surgery, which prompted a delay in consideration of the bill this week.

Some Republicans have raised the idea of a bipartisan bill to stabilize ObamaCare markets, which could include funding for key payments to insurers known as cost-sharing reductions, as well as possibly funding to bring down premiums for high-cost enrollees, known as "reinsurance."

But conservative Republicans, including No. 2 Senate Republican John Cornyn (Texas), have objected to the idea of a stabilization bill as simply throwing more money at the health law.

Meanwhile, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) put forward a third approach on Monday night, touting a bill he recently proposed with Cassidy to give states a chunk of money and let them decide whether to keep much of ObamaCare or try something new.

That approach has been attacked from both the left and right.


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