Congressional Republicans were, even as of last week, working hard to repeal the ACA (Obamacare). But their latest “repeal and replace” bill, a revised version of the Graham-Cassidy Bill, was widely panned, with pundits calling it “the worst yet” for the average American’s medical insurance. And thanks in part to Senator Susan Collins (a name that should be familiar to those following this saga), any chance the GOP had at shutting down Obamacare during President Trump’s first year in office is effectively dead in the water.
Collins joined a handful of GOP dissenters on Monday to stop their party from continuing to pursue legislation that could leave millions of Americans without health care. In a statement, Collins said, “Today, we find out that there is now a fourth version of the Graham-Cassidy proposal, which is as deeply flawed as the previous iterations. The fact that a new version of this bill was released the very week we are supposed to vote compounds the problem.”
Collins, a senator from Maine, admitted that she still sees the ACA as flawed, but she also said that the Graham-Cassidy Bill won’t fix what needs fixing. According to a partial analysis by the Congressional Budget Office, “the number of people with comprehensive health insurance that covers high-cost medical events would be reduced by millions.”
Collins referenced the CBO analysis while talking with reporters on Capitol Hill. “It would have a negative impact on millions of Americans who are now insured, so it was that final piece of the puzzle that I had been waiting to confirm,” she said, per NPR. She added to ABC News: “Obviously this was an issue to which I’ve given a great deal of thought because there are many problems in the Affordable Care Act that do need to be fixed. However it was clear to me that the Graham-Cassidy bill was not the answer.”
With her statement, Collins joined the ranks of other GOP members who had already stated they would vote no on this attempt at ACA repeal, including John McCain, Rand Paul, and perhaps most surprisingly, Senator Ted Cruz, who said he could not vote “yes” on the bill as written.
On Tuesday, Senator Lisa Murkowski officially joined the ranks too, releasing a statement via Twitter. “I recognize the status quo with health care in this country is unacceptable. Giving control back to the states and flexibility are ideas I can get behind. But substance matters and the ability to validate data matters.”
Murkowski went on to discuss the challenges her home state of Alaska faces, before shutting down any questions as to her position on Graham-Cassidy. “I look forward to working with the HELP Committee and others in the Senate to get out to our respective states, to work with our Governors, to vet the practical implications of these ideas on the ground. We must continue our efforts to reform our healthcare system — by reducing costs, increasing access, and providing quality healthcare that Americans deserve.”
Without the votes they needed to pass the bill, Republican leaders announced Tuesday that they were pulling the plug on Graham-Cassidy. “We haven’t given up on changing the American health care system. We are not going to be able to do that this week,” McConnell told reporters, per the New York Times. “But it still lies ahead of us, and we haven’t given up on that.”
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