Health Reform WK-EDGE McCain’s absence, delayed CBO analysis contribute to postponed Senate vote
Monday, July 24, 2017

McCain’s absence, delayed CBO analysis contribute to postponed Senate vote

By Deborah Hammonds

This bill is no longer under consideration. For more information, see BCRA may be gone, but AHCA, ACA repeal efforts continue, in this issue.

The highly anticipated vote on the latest plan to repeal the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA) (P.L. 111-148) that was expected to happen this week has been delayed. On Saturday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky) announced he was postponing the vote due to Senator John McCain’s (R-Nev) unexpected surgery for a blood clot above his eye. McCain is expected to recover at home for at least a week.

The delay gives McConnell more time to rally support within the Republican Party and according to media reports, he needs it with a growing number of Senators, including Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), Dean Heller (R-Nev) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio), expressing concerns about the legislation. The first version of the bill failed to find enough support for a procedural motion to take up the bill. The current version, introduced last week, has already met with resistance from Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky). According to media reports, both senators oppose the bill for different reasons: Collins has expressed concerns about the significant changes proposed for the Medicaid program while Paul argues the bill is not a true repeal and keeps the "fundamental flaw of Obamacare" by keeping the insurance mandates. McCain finds the bill lacking in certain areas related to Medicaid, and plans to file amendments if the bill moves forward.

CBO analysis delayed. In addition to Senator McConnell’s announced delay, the Congressional Budget Office was scheduled to release an analysis of the revised version, including estimated cost and scope of insurance coverage today, but announced the release had been postponed. The CBO did not provide an explanation for the delay or indicate when the analysis is expected.

Cruz amendment criticized. Senator Ted Cruz’s (R-Texas) amendment, which would allow insurers to offer stripped-down plans with bare-bones coverage has met with pushback from insurers. The CEOs of America's Health Insurance Plans and the BlueCross BlueShield Association sent a letter to McConnell and Democratic Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, calling the plan "unworkable" (see Insurers dub Consumer Freedom Option unworkable, predict harm to consumers, in this issue).

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