Sen. John McCain is part of a group of Senate Republicans that’s fighting a ‘skinny’ Affordable Care Act change proposal that could come to the Senate floor sometime tonight.
The Senate has been debating amendments to a preliminary version of the legislation, but, so far, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has not posted the text of the final version of the main part of the bill.
The final version will take the form of an amendment that would replace the current of H.R. 1628, the American Health Care Act bill. The House passed that Affordable Care Act change bill 217-213 on May 4. The final version will probably be a very “skinny” amendment that would simply repeal some of the most controversial provisions in the Affordable Care Act, such as the individual coverage mandate and the employer coverage offer mandate, according to press reports.
Like to live video of the Senate floor action is available here. Senators were supposed to be voting on amendments to the Affordable Care Act change bill but now appear to be stalling, by taking time to make general comments about why the support or oppose the change efforts.
McCain, an Arizona Republican who returned to the Senate after getting surgery for a blood clot over his eye, and being diagnosed with brain cancer, appeared this afternoon at a press conference with three Senate Republican colleagues to express horror at the idea of a skinny Affordable Care Act change bill actually becoming law.
McCain and the other senators — Lindsay Graham of South Carolina, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana — argued that the skinny bill would not really repeal much of the Affordable Care Act and would not replace any of it.
“I’m not voting for a bill that’s horrible policy and horrible politics just because we have to get something done,” Graham said. “I’m not voting for a pig in a poke.”
Graham later called the idea of letting the skinny bill become law “politically the dumbest thing in history.”
Letting the skinny bill become law on its own would destroy the individual health insurance market, Graham said.
A recording of the press conference featuring John McCain, Lindsay Graham, Ron Johnson and Bill Cassidy (Video: Live Satellite News/YouTube)
McCain said he wants to vote for a bill but wants assurances that the Senate will really meeting in conference with House leaders and work out a better version of the bill that both chambers can approve, rather than using streamlined procedures to push the skinny bill through the House.
“I am convinced that we can move forward, but we have to have an assurance that this will go through a normal conference,” McCain said. ”Right now, that is not the case.”
House Speaker Paul Ryan has said he’s willing to have the bill go through a conference committee, but McCain and Lindsay said during the press conference that they have heard that other House leaders might try to push the skinny bill through the House using a quick, “martial law” procedure. The martial law procedure eliminates most of the opportunities House members usually have to review, debate and consider amendments to bills.
In other Affordable Care Act change news, members of the Senate today voted 43-57 to defeat Senate Amendment 340 to H.R. 1628. If the amendment had passed, it could have set up a single-payer, government-run health care finance system for the United States.
Democrats, including longtime supporters of single-payer health care proposals, such as Sen. Bernie Sanders, a socialist from Vermont who votes with the Democrats, accused Republicans of offering the amendment the way they did to embarrass the Democrats.
All Republican senators voted against the amendment.
The amendment uncovered some strong Democratic opposition to the single-payer concept: 43 Democrats voted “present,” rather than casting a vote either for or against the amendment. All Republicans voted against the amendments. Four Democrats, and one independent who usually votes with the Democrats, also voted against the amendment.
The independent who voted against the measure is Angus King of Maine.
The four Democrats who openly opposed a single-payer health care amendment are Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Manchin of West Virginia and Jon Tester of Montana.
— Read 5 Better Care Bill Revision Highlights for Agents on ThinkAdvisor.