Obamacare Repeal Likely A Dead Deal

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Robert Donachie Capitol Hill and Health Care Reporter
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The fourth Republican senator came out against the party’s 11th hour proposal to repeal major features of Obamacare early Monday evening, a vote that could potentially kill Republican’s seven-year campaign promise altogether.

Sen. Susan Collins of Maine is expected to vote “no” when Republican leadership calls Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana’s repeal bill up for a vote, which is expected as early as Wednesday.

“This is simply not the way we should be approaching an important and complex issue that must be handled thoughtfully and fairly for all Americans,” Collins said in the closing of a statement Monday.

Three other GOP senators–John McCain of Arizona, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas–have publicly announced they will give a thumbs down to Graham-Cassidy.

The chances here are now slim for Republicans to successfully push Obamacare repeal through the Senate, even with House Speaker Paul Ryan’s assurance that he will pass the bill in the House if Senate leadership is successful.

If McCain, Murkowski, Collins and/or Paul vote no, Graham-Cassidy is dead.

McCain announced Friday afternoon that he will give a thumbs down to Graham-Cassidy, along with any health care bill that does not go through regular order–a legislative process that requires 60 “yes” votes and allows Democrats the opportunity to filibuster.

Leadership does not “have my vote” on Graham-Cassidy, Cruz said Sunday, and for now that is all that is known of his current stance.

Murkowski’s home state of Alaska is one of the costliest under Obamacare, as it has a sprawling population with a lot of low-density areas. Under the original version of Graham-Cassidy, 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 would work out to roughly a $1,350 cut per resident.

Even though Alaska appears to get more money under the revised bill, Murkowski is still signaling she may vote against the bill.

“I am insisting that there are elements of the ACA that must be saved, that must be preserved. For example, we must continue to prohibit insurers from discriminating against pre-existing conditions … as long as this Legislature wants to keep (Medicaid) expansion, Alaska should have the option — so I will not vote to repeal it,” Murkowski told reporters.

Paul has been a hard “no” since the bill’s inception, and it is hard to see a way that leadership can garner his vote in the last few days before the Sept. 30 budget reconciliation deadline. The Kentucky senator told The Daily Caller News Foundation last week that he does not support the Graham-Cassidy bill

A spokesman for Paul said Monday the senator is opposed to Graham-Cassidy 2.0, despite the bill’s revision and the fact that it increases funding to his home state of Kentucky.

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