When it comes to repealing and replacing ObamaCare, the clock is ticking on Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) who seems determined to hold a vote before the July 4 recess. Therefore, the next two weeks will be crucial for Senate Republicans.
Without an actual bill, lawmakers are faced with questions, such as how much time it will take to phase out ObamaCare’s Medicaid expansion, while they also feel the pressure of other priorities, including tax reform, the budget and immigration issues.
“This doesn’t in my opinion get better over time,” said Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO). “It won’t be appreciably better a month from today than it is today. At some point to get this done, you’re going to get it done in the last 10 days before the vote.”
The vote is bound to be close, because with a 52-seat majority, the GOP only has a margin of two votes, and in today’s uncertain political atmosphere, there are no guarantees.
A vocal critic of the forthcoming bill, which he said contains “new entitlements,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) will likely vote “no” along with Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), who expressed “grave concerns” about the direction of the Senate bill last Sunday, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who is against ending ObamaCare’s additional funding for Medicaid’s expansion without the support of her state legislature.
“My position on Medicaid expansion and my support for it hasn’t changed,” Murkowski said.
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has expressed concerns about Medicaid cuts, but she’s said that so far, the Senate bill seems to be “far superior” to the one approved by the House.
Sens. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) reportedly want to phase out Medicaid expansion funding over seven years, but even with that long amount of time, Collins still might not go along with it, stating, “I know that some of the governors have said that a seven year phase-out is something they could live with. It’s certainly far better than the House approach, but I really want to see the whole package.”
Democrats are concerned that the GOP is rushing things and dislike the closed-door way they’re deliberating. “I would have liked for this to be a public process. It’s not going to happen,” said Sen. Bob Corker (R-TN.).
“What I’ve been primarily asking for is once leadership finally does believe they have enough input … I want to make sure the American people, I want to make sure the members of Congress have enough time to evaluate it,” said Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WS). “I want to have enough time to really take a look at what we’re voting on.”
Meanwhile, the polls show that the House-passed ObamaCare repeal bill is not popular with the public.
According to a Quinnipiac University poll this month, only 17 percent of voters approves of the American Health Care Act, and 61 percent don’t like it.
Medicaid cuts are a sticking point. The poll shows that 30 percent support decreasing federal funding for the program, while 65 percent are against it.
An Associated Press poll this week found that 66 percent disapprove of they way President Trump is handling the healthcare issue.
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