Senate Republican health care bill is dead. What’s next?

GOP leaders have decided not to vote on Senate Republicans’ latest effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and party leaders are already moving on to the next policy issue set by President Donald Trump: tax reform.

Republicans had a Sept. 30 deadline to pass legislation with just 50 votes and the help of a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence, thanks to a legislative technique known as budget reconciliation. It’ll be much harder to pass anything after the deadline because 60 votes would be needed for approval starting in October.

Republicans couldn’t get the votes they needed together… again. Here’s the 411.

Why was the bill unsuccessful?

The bill, sponsored by Sens. Lindsey Graham, R- South Carolina and Bill Cassidy, R-Louisiana, would have reorganized how the federal government manages health care by redirecting funds from Medicaid and other subsidies from the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) into block grants that states could use for more locally based health care programs.

RELATED: What is the Graham-Cassidy bill?

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, dealt the deciding blow to the bill on Tuesday when she announced she would not support it.

“Sweeping reforms to our health care system and to Medicaid can’t be done well in a compressed time frame, especially when the actual bill is a moving target,” Collins said of the hurried manner in which the bill was introduced.

She joined Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas and Sen. Rand Paul, R-Kentucky in opposing the bill. There are 52 Republicans in the Senate, so those four senators were more than enough to sink the bill.

Monday night, McCain drew Trump’s criticism on Twitter, and Graham, a close friend of McCain, defended his colleagues’ vote on live television shortly after the president’s tweet.

The Congressional Budget Office estimated Graham-Cassidy would result in millions fewer people with comprehensive health insurance to cover the often high cost of medical needs and procedures.

Democrats in the Senate, who have opposed the GOP’s health care proposals this year, rejoiced.

“Today, Americans breathe a sigh of relief because the health care of millions has been protected and preserved,” said Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-New York.

What does Trump say about all this?

“We are disappointed in certain so-called Republicans,” Trump said after the failure was announced by Senate leaders.

Now what?

“Where we go from here is tax reform,” Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Kentucky, said on Tuesday. “We plan to move forward on our next priority which is reforming the American tax code in a significant way for the first time in 30 years.”

“Health care, as far as I am concerned, is over,” Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, said on CNN. “Tax reform is where we have to do the job.”

Trump and Pence’s tweets have already turned to tax reform.

In his meeting with the House Committee on Ways and Means on Tuesday, Trump pointed to bipartisanship.

“It’s time for both parties to come together and do what is right for the American people,” he said.

Trump has shown a willingness to compromise with leading Democrats in Washington on budget and immigration issues in recent weeks. Will there be a deal reached in Congress on tax reform? We’ll see.

The tax reform process is expected to take the rest of the year in Congress and possibly continue into 2018.

And health care reform may rear its head next year, too. Politico and Vox both say Obamacare could be targeted anew through additional Republican budgetary maneuvering. And there’s always the possibility of bipartisan reforms to Obamacare. Right?


Twitter: @abbyhamblin


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