Reporters from Bloomberg, Politico are rushing around and interviewing countless unnamed sources to tell the same story they’ve been telling for months.
Whether Republicans can pass the big new GOP Affordable Care Act change bill, the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson bill, in time to affect 2018 will depend on whether the most conservative Republicans in Congress, and the most moderate Republicans in Congress, can close their eyes, hold their noses and control their stomachs long enough to vote for the same bill.
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., has said that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell supports the bill, which would keep the Affordable Care Act exchange system in place; keep current ACA subsidies in place during a transition period; eliminate some ACA taxes but keep others; eliminate the ACA individual and employer mandates; keep many ACA programs and commercial insurance rules in place; and replace the current ACA individual and insurer subsidy programs with new block grants and ACA rule waiver programs for states.
Democrats say the bill would let states gut the ACA rules that now protect people with health problems against having to pay higher prices than other people for lower-quality coverage.
McConnell is willing to bring the bill to Senate floor if he thinks he has 50 votes, according to press reports.
For a look at the obstacles between the bill and President Donald Trump’s desk, and why Graham and his colleagues might, possibly have a shot at overcoming those obstacles this time around, read on.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz. (Photo: McCain)
1. John McCain
Democrats in the House and Senate appear to be united in opposition to the Graham-Cassidy bill.
That means Graham-Cassidy supporters must win the support of at least 50 of the 52 Republicans in the Senate to get the bill through the Senate with a majority vote.
Back in July, when the Senate considered several Republican Affordable Care Act change bills, supporters were able to attract just 43 Republican Senate votes for a long change bill, and just 45 votes for a shorter bills.
When the final proposal in that series of bills, the very shortest bill, came up for a vote July 28, two of the most moderate Republican senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, voted against it.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who has sided with the Republican majority on most votes, joined with Collins and Murkowski to kill the skinniest ACA change bill.
At press time, Collins, Murkowski and McCain were still holding back from supporting Graham-Cassidy.
Some of the other Republican senators who voted for the skinniest bill considered in July, but not for some of the longer bills, were also holding back from saying how they would vote.
On the other hand: those Senate moderates could relent, if they believe passing the bill is the only way to get the subsidy money to keep the individual major medical market breathing in 2018.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky. (Photo: Paul)
2. Rand Paul