Sen. John McCain today threatened the future of a major Republican proposal for overhauling the Affordable Care Act health insurance system, the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson bill, by saying he will oppose it.
The Arizona Republican said in a statement that he objects to the idea of Republicans relying entirely on votes from Republican lawmakers to ram a health insurance bill through Congress.
“The issue is too important, and too many lives are at risk, for us to leave the American people guessing from one election to the next whether and how they will acquire health insurance,” McCain said. “A bill of this impact requires a bipartisan approach.”
Republicans have 52 seats in the Senate.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has said he will bring the Graham-Cassidy bill to the floor for a vote in the Senate if he thinks the bill has 50 votes.
At press time, McCain was the second senator to come out openly against the Graham-Cassidy bill.
Sen. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has already come out against it, saying it keeps too much of the ACA intact.
Another Republican, Susan Collins of Maine, has expressed concerns about the bill.
Lisa Murkowski of Alaska has said she is still analyzing the bill.
It’s possible that McConnell could find a way win back the support of senators who have said they will oppose the bill.
The 2018 federal fiscal year ends Oct. 1, and the individual major medical open enrollment period for 2018 is set to start Nov. 1.
Republican congressional leaders have been racing to get an ACA overhaul bill that both Senate and House Republicans can accept through Congress by Sept. 30, in an effort to finalize health insurance market rules quickly, and to use special Senate budget reconciliation process rules that let some budget measures get through the Senate with just 51 votes, rather than with the 60 votes normally required.
“The specter of [the] September 30th budget reconciliation deadline has hung over this entire process,” McCain said in the statement.
McCain said he is uncomfortable with the idea of voting on the Graham-Cassidy bill before knowing what the Congressional Budget Office thinks about it.
The CBO does not expect to have a full analysis of the effects of the Graham-Cassidy bill ready this month, McCain said.
McCain said he is also uncomfortable about the idea that the rush to get the Graham-Cassidy bill through Congress is undermining efforts by Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., to develop a bipartisan ACA overhaul bill at the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee.
McCain said he would still consider supporting legislation similar to the Graham-Cassidy proposal if the legislation were the product of extensive hearings, debate and amendment.
—-Read How to Compromise on Universal Health Care on ThinkAdvisor.
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