Senate rejects proposal for 'Obamacare' repeal

Senate rejects proposal for 'Obamacare' repeal

Rob Portman, R-Ohio, would have paved the way for the partial repeal and replacement of Obamacare, but it failed to meet the 60-vote threshold needed.

Three Senate Republicans came out against this idea last week: Susan Collins, Shelley Moore Capito and Lisa Murkowski.

Only 10 senators voted for the second measure, a symbolic proposal known as the Heller amendment. But there has been a lot of hesitation among Republicans for "repeal" without a plan for "replace". Paul. The substance of the legislation is largely similar to a bill that Congress passed in late 2015, knowing that it would be (and ultimately was) vetoed by President Obama.

With other plans looking destined to fail, Republicans are considering a "skinny repeal" of Obamacare in hopes of just keeping the repeal process alive. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, to allow insurers to sell bare-bones health care plans that don't cover maternity care and other major benefits as long as the companies also sell plans that include a full range of benefits.

Instead, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is presenting a series of confusing amendments that seem created to give the GOP political cover without fixing America's health insurance system.

In the wake of those two telling votes Republican senators have few options left, and that's led them to look to the "skinny repeal". "It's a shell of a bill right now, we all know that", said the Arizona lawmaker.

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The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that repealing Obamacare without replacing it would cost more than 30 million Americans their insurance coverage, and that was a key factor in driving away more Republican senators than Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could afford to lose in the closely-divided Senate. The CBO estimated on Wednesday, at the request of Democrats, that a skinny repeal could result in 16 million more uninsured.

The Byrd rule generally blocks provisions that don't affect the federal budget - and blocks provisions whose changes to spending or taxes are "merely incidental" to a larger policy objective. On Tuesday, they objected to the usual Senate practice of waiving the reading of the bill, so Senate clerks had to spend several hours reading the leadership replacement bill aloud.

Conservatives have aggressively pushed to unwind Obamacare's insurance regulations, but the Senate rules have proven hard to work around.

The 61,000-member statewide organization also urged senators to eliminate numerous mandatory coverage requirements included in Obamacare, eliminate the individual mandate to purchase health care insurance and eliminate penalties for employers who do not provide health insurance coverage for their employees. McCain voted earlier on Tuesday to proceed with the process to pass a Senate healthcare bill. But if 50 senators could agree, with Vice President Mike Pence breaking any tie, such a bill would at least keep alive the party's effort to repeal the Affordable Care Act, under which about 20 million people have gained coverage.

Of course, Senate leaders have said they view the skinny bill mainly as a placeholder. Under the complex rules governing how the legislation is being considered, the debate will culminate at some point Thursday afternoon or evening in a freakish exercise called a "vote-a-rama" during which unlimited amendments can be offered by all sides in rapid succession.

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