McCain May Have Killed Republicans’ Last Chance To Repeal Obamacare

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Robert Donachie Capitol Hill and Health Care Reporter
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Sen. John McCain of Arizona announced Friday afternoon that he will vote against his Republican colleagues’ last-ditch effort to repeal and replace Obamacare.

“I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal. I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried,” he said in a statement Friday.

“Nor could I support it without knowing how much it will cost, how it will effect insurance premiums, and how many people will be helped or hurt by it. Without a full CBO score, which won’t be available by the end of the month, we won’t have reliable answers to any of those questions,” McCain said.

The Arizona senator has been adamant all week that any major health care bill needs to go through regular order, which forces a bill to get 60 “yes” votes and provides Democrats with the opportunity to filibuster. Kimmel: McCain A ‘Hero’ For Rejecting Graham-Cassidy Bill

Republican Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, along with Sens. Dean Heller of Nevada and Ron Johnson Wisconsin, put forth a bill that would repeal major portions of Obamacare and replace the system’s funding mechanism with block grants in an attempt, according to the senators, to promote state innovation in the implementation of health care.

McCain was, along with Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Susan Collins of Maine and Rand Paul of Kentucky, serving as one the key holdouts. The only other senator in the group to come out definitively against the bill is Paul, told The Daily Caller News Foundation on Tuesday that he does not support Graham-Cassidy.

Republicans need 50 “yes” votes to pass the bill under the Senate’s budget reconciliation, and they currently have roughly 48 senators behind the bill, according to Cassidy.

The two senators to focus on are Collins and Murkowsi, who both notably voted against the Republicans last attempt to repeal Obamacare in a contentious 49-51 vote in late July.

Murkowski is still looking at the bill and waiting for more analysis before she makes her final decision. Alaska is one of the costliest states under Obamacare, and any serious cuts the state’s Medicaid funding could cause Murkowski to give a thumbs down to Graham-Cassidy. If she, or McCain, end up voting no, the bill is dead.

“I’m still looking for data that walks me through how Alaska actually does,” Murkowski told reporters. “If it can be shown that Alaska is not going to be disadvantaged we gain additionally flexibility then I can go back to Alaskans and I can say, ‘OK let’s walk through this together’ … I don’t have that right now.”

Alaska could see as much as a $1 billion cut to the state’s federal health care funding from 2020 to 2026, according to research from consulting firm Avalere. That works out to roughly a $1,350 cut per resident.

Collins told reporters she was “leaning against” the bill Friday, but has yet to make a final decision.

There are three other Republican senators who have yet to declare their support for the bill. Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, and Cory Gardner of Colorado.

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