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Senate health care bill vote delayed

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Majority Leader McConnell pulls legislation

WASHINGTON — Majority leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) yesterday withdrew a planned vote on the Senate bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

McConnell delayed action on the measure after it became apparent that Republicans lacked the votes to approve their version of legislation passed by the House in May. While he had wanted to get the bill approved before the July 4 recess, the top Senate Republican said he was still “working toward getting at least 50 people in a comfortable place.”

Even a meeting by President Trump with all the GOP senators failed to win over recalcitrant Republicans, and McConnell said if the party could not reach a consensus it would be forced to negotiate a deal with Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer of New York.

“The status quo is simply unsustainable,” said McConnell. “It’ll be dealt with in one of two ways: Either Republicans will agree and change the status quo, or the markets will continue to collapse, and we’ll have to sit down with Senator Schumer. And my suspicion is that any negotiation with the Democrats would include none of the reforms that we would like to make.”

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell

McConnell and a small group of Republican senators had met behind closed doors to draft the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017.

The GOP bill includes cuts to Medicaid and eliminates the Obamacare mandate that most Americans have health insurance. The proposal also creates a new system of federal tax credits to help people pay for health insurance, while giving states the flexibility to drop many of the benefits required by the ACA.

The legislation’s chances for passage were hurt when the Congressional Budget Office forecast that it would increase the number of people without health insurance by 22 million in the next decade.

Both conservative and moderate senators expressed discomfort with the process used to draft the legislation, and resistance emerged over its provision to withhold funding for Planned Parenthood for one year and its rollback of Medicaid.


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