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John McCain can’t vote for the Republican plan to replace Obamacare

The Guardian – By Lauren Gambino/Sabrina Siddiqui in Washington – Friday 22 September 2017

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Photo: John McCain in Washington DC on Tuesday. Photograph: Xinhua / Barcroft Images.

Senator John McCain said on Friday that he could not “in good conscience” vote for the latest Republican proposal to replace Obamacare, casting serious doubt on whether it can succeed.

The Republican senator of Arizona’s move made it increasingly difficult for Republican party leaders to get the votes they need to eliminate the Affordable Care Act in what is being seen as a last-gasp attempt.

Republicans hold a slim 52-seat majority in the Senate. The process Republicans are using to pursue healthcare, known as “reconciliation”, enables them to pass legislation with a simple 51-majority vote.

As a result, Republicans can afford to lose just two senators, a scenario in which vice-president Mike Pence would cast the tie-breaking vote. In addition to McCain, Kentucky senator Rand Paul has said he is firmly against the measure because he does not believe it does enough to repeal the existing healthcare law.

Senator Susan Collins, of Maine, also said Friday she was “leaning against” the proposal.

McCain, who would like to repeal the ACA, has taken issue with the fast-track process Republicans are using to rush the bill to the floor and allow them to pass the bill on a party-line vote expires.

“I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal,” McCain said in a statement on Friday. “I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried.”

“Nor could I support it without knowing how much it will cost, how it will effect insurance premiums, and how many people will be helped or hurt by it. Without a full CBO score, which won’t be available by the end of the month, we won’t have reliable answers to any of those questions.”

Republican leadership had hoped to hold a vote early next week, but McCain’s defection makes the math nearly impossible.

Senator Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who along with Collins and McCain thwarted the most recent attempt by Senate Republicans to repeal the ACA in July, has also expressed deep skepticism over the Graham-Cassidy.

McCain’s decision on Friday was especially notable given his close friendship with Lindsey Graham, the lead co-sponsor of the latest ACA repeal bill. In his statement, McCain alluded to his rapport with Graham to underscore the difficulty he faced in reaching his decision.

“I take no pleasure in announcing my opposition. Far from it,” McCain said. “The bill’s authors are my dear friends.”

The Graham-Cassidy proposal has garnered significant backlash in recent weeks from across the healthcare spectrum. Several leading physicians associations, as well as the lobbying group that represents the insurance industry, have come out against the bill.

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Posted by Teri Perticone

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