The healthcare bill proposed by Senate Republicans to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act fizzled for all intents and purposes Monday night when two more GOP senators announced they would not vote in favor of the legislation, leaving it short of the necessary support for passage. GOP leaders in the Senate now are shifting their focus to a straight repeal of the ACA with a replacement to follow later.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and Jerry Moran (R-KS) on Monday joined fellow Republican senators Rand Paul (Kentucky) and Susan Collins (Maine) in opposing the proposed healthcare reform bill.
“We’re very glad about that,” Linda Rosenberg, president and CEO of the National Council for Behavioral Health, tells Behavioral Healthcare Executive. “It was never a healthcare bill to begin with. It was a tax bill. It deserved to never come to a vote.”
The GOP-sponsored Senate bill came under fire for, among other reasons, potentially leaving 22 million Americans without health insurance by 2026, per Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projections.
“Whenever Congress has enacted an entitlement, it has never taken it away,” says Julius Hobson, healthcare lobbyist, senior policy advisor at the Polsinelli law firm and former head of Congressional relations for the American Medical Association. “You’ve given people access to health insurance, which means they’ve got coverage more than ever before. You don’t just wake up and take that away. It’s not going to happen.
“Democrats may want to take credit for what has transpired, but they shouldn’t. The people who showed up in these town hall meetings weren’t organized by Democrats. They were people concerned about their own healthcare.”
With the bill now spiked, Senate Republicans have turned their attention toward a straight repeal of the ACA over a two-year period. Such a move, however, could leave 32 million Americans without health insurance within 10 years, per an earlier CBO analysis.
“The problem with a repeal is what does that mean? Are you going to do away with the exchanges? Are you going to do away with the expansion? And how many millions of people will have no coverage at all? I don’t think that’s a feasible solution,” Rosenberg says. “What they will try to do is repeal it, but say, ‘We’re not going to do that for two years,’ so they can go back to their constituents and say, ‘We voted to repeal, but without having done anything to replace.’ I don’t think that is governing. I think that is just trying to delude the American public.”
Two Republican Senators—Shelley Moore Capito (West Virginia) and Collins—already have spoken out against a straight ACA repeal with a delayed replacement, and Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) on Tuesday told reporters he would be looking more closely into what a repeal bill could entail as he felt it could lead to “more uncertainty and the potential for Ohioans to pay even higher premiums (and) higher deductibles, so we’ll have to see.”