BY CHRIS JOHNSON, WASHINGTON BLADE
The U.S. Senate rejected early Friday morning an attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace with it a “skinny” version of Trumpcare, raising serious questions about whether President Trump will succeed in his campaign of dismantling Obamacare.
The bill failed on 51-49 vote as a result from three defections from Republican caucus: Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska). Vice President Mike Pence, whose vote would been necessary for a tie vote, had left the chamber before the roll call was called. All Democrats vote against the measure.
Among other things, the “skinny” version of Obamacare would have repealed the individual mandate and the employer mandate, ended the tax on medical devices and defunded Planned Parenthood for one year. The full text of the bill wasn’t made public until around 10:00 less four hours before the Senate held a vote in the dead of night.
According to the Congressional Budget Office, it would resulted a savings of $179 billion through 2026, but 16 million fewer insured Americans and 20 percent higher premiums.
McCain, whose support for the legislation was in question right until the vote, said in a statement he ultimately voted “no” because he didn’t believe “skinny” repeal was an improvement.
“From the beginning, I have believed that Obamacare should be repealed and replaced with a solution that increases competition, lowers costs, and improves care for the American people,” McCain said. “The so-called ‘skinny repeal’ amendment the Senate voted on today would not accomplish those goals. While the amendment would have repealed some of Obamacare’s most burdensome regulations, it offered no replacement to actually reform our health care system and deliver affordable, quality health care to our citizens.”
It remains to be seen what are the next actions Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will take on the matter, but it’s hard to see how congressional Republican can proceed with any kind of Obamacare repeal following the rejection of “skinny” repeal.
Chad Griffin, president of the Human Rights Campaign, claimed victory in a statement following the defeat of the “skinny” repeal bill.
“We are pleased the latest attempt to strip away health care from millions has hit another roadblock,” Griffin said. “The Trump-Pence-McConnell plan would cause insurance premiums to drastically rise and leave millions of Americans uninsured, with a particularly devastating impact on low-income senior citizens, women, children, LGBTQ people and people living with HIV. While today was a win for millions of Americans, our fight is far from over. We will continue to urge the Senate to step away from partisan attacks on the ACA and work to improve our health care system through an open and democratic process.”