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Senate Republicans to Plow Ahead With Obamacare Repeal After Defections (Updated)

Ally Boguhn

One version of a repeal-only plan would result in loss of health-care coverage for 32 million people, according to estimates released in January by the Congressional Budget Office.

UPDATE, July 18, 3:09 p.m.: Three Republican senators on Tuesday came out against Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s push to repeal the Affordable Care Act without a replacement, leaving the party without the necessary votes to move forward. “I did not come to Washington to hurt people,” Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), one of the GOP senators to oppose an immediate repeal of the ACA, said in a statement

The GOP’s latest effort to pass an Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal bill fell apart Monday night after a pair of Republican senators announced their opposition to the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA). Republicans, however, haven’t given up on rolling back the health-care reform law that allowed at least 20 million people to gain health insurance.

Republican Sens. Mike Lee (UT) and Jerry Moran (KS) joined colleagues Sens. Susan Collins (ME) and Rand Paul (KY) in their opposition to moving the BCRA forward, leaving Republicans in the U.S. Senate short of the votes needed to pass a motion to proceed in stripping millions of health-care access.

The BCRA was sharply criticized by health-care experts, insurers, and voters due in large part to the massive cuts in Medicaid spending and the gutting of protections in the bill. A revised version of the bill included an amendment crafted by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) allowing some insurers to opt out of offering the birth control benefit, among other essential health benefits, according to Vox.

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) said in a statement Monday that while “it is now apparent that the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare will not be successful,” the party would continue efforts to do away with the health-care law.

“[T]he Senate will vote to take up the House bill with the first amendment in order being what a majority of the Senate has already supported in 2015 and that was vetoed by then-President Obama: a repeal of Obamacare with a two-year delay to provide for a stable transition period to a patient-centered health-care system that gives Americans access to quality, affordable care,” McConnell said.

Lee said Tuesday that he would vote in favor of proceeding to debate the repeal of Obamacare in light of McConnell’s decision to move forward an amendment that would only repeal the health care law, but not replace it, according to Politico. One version of a Republican repeal-only plan would result in loss of health-care coverage for 32 million people, as health-care premiums would rise by as much as 25 percent, according to estimates released in January by the Congressional Budget Office. 

Though at least 22 million stood to lose access to care under the BCRA, major anti-choice groups heartily embraced the legislation, even helping to craft the bill.

The Susan B. Anthony List touted its work in helping to write the GOP bill in a Monday email claiming that in addition to “over 200 meetings” between members of Congress and anti-choice lobbyists, Marjorie Dannenfelser, the group’s president, had personally “met with the vice president and secretary of Health and Human Services to discuss our pro-life priorities in this bill” and that the organization had “provided technical support to the bill’s drafters.”

Dannenfelser was among a group of anti-choice activists who sat down with Vice President Mike Pence last week for a secret meeting to discuss efforts to roll back the ACA. The group had planned to spend “six-figures to support passage of the [BCRA] legislation in the Senate,” which would have been spent on targeted digital advertisements and phone calls, according to a press release from the group.

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