GOP healthcare bill is one opponent away from demise

Ravell Call Deseret News        FILE- Sen. Orrin Hatch R-Utah and Sen. Mike Lee R Utah greet on election night in Salt Lake City Tuesday Nov. 4 2014

Ravell Call Deseret News FILE- Sen. Orrin Hatch R-Utah and Sen. Mike Lee R Utah greet on election night in Salt Lake City Tuesday Nov. 4 2014

President Donald Trump prodded Republican Senators on Friday to work harder to make good on their promise to repeal Obamacare after the latest Republican healthcare plan ran into significant opposition that threatened to doom the proposal. Republican House Speaker Paul Ryan called off a vote in March in the face of a rebellion involving the disparate factions of the party but managed to coax enough lawmakers to back it and engineered narrow approval on May 4.

There are only 52 Republicans in the Senate and two of them, Collins and Sen.

Several senators, including Shelley Moore Capito, Rob Portman and John McCain, had concerns about the legislation and particularly its Medicaid cuts.

"As the U.S. Senate considers the Better Care Reconciliation Act, we are writing to urge you to strike the "Consumer Freedom Option" from the bill", the letter reads.

Paul and Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, for different reasons, have said they will not vote even to proceed to the legislation on the Senate floor.

When CNN's Jake Tapper asked Collins about Vice President Mike Pence's recent claim that the bill would strengthen Medicaid, the senator said she "would respectfully disagree with the vice president's analysis".

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John Thune, a member of the Senate Republican leadership, said in order to complete work on the bill by the end of next week, Senate leaders would have to try to formally begin debate on Tuesday or Wednesday, a move that requires a majority vote. "It's not going to be a big victory, where they get anything more than Republicans", Karpowitz said. "And the time to deliver that to them is next week", McConnell said.

According to WIBC host Tony Katz, however, the cold reality is that Republicans don't have the votes needed to pass their legislation anyway, so what happens without this bill?

McConnell did not indicate when he would aim to return to the health care bill, but Cornyn made clear Sunday that moving quickly is important.

"We're willing to do what we can to shore up the system now, to stabilize it to make health care available to people now, but we want reforms to go along with it", he said.

The bill unwinds Obamacare's Medicaid expansion over three years, from 2021 to 2024.

Lee and Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, had been working together on what they called the Consumer Freedom Amendment, meant to allow health insurers to offer some limited, lower-cost plans that don't comply with Obamacare requirements. Analyses of the earlier version of the Senate bill found it would result in more than 20 million additional uninsured Americans over a decade, compared with current law.

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