White House Pushing for Health Care Overhaul, but Opposition Grows
The White House is making a final push to overhaul the U.S. health care law championed by former President Barack Obama, but opposition to the changes Senate Republicans are proposing has grown in recent days, leaving the repeal effort in doubt.
One key lawmaker, Senator John McCain, told CBS on Sunday, “My view is that it’s probably going to be dead.”
Republicans have campaigned for seven years to overturn the 2010 law, commonly known in the U.S. as Obamacare. But even with Republicans controlling the White House and both houses of Congress, the party’s lawmakers have so far been unable to agree on how to change it, with some conservative senators calling for repealing major parts of the law and more moderate Republicans looking to keep popular provisions.
The House of Representatives narrowly approved repeal of the legislation in May. President Donald Trump initially cheered the passage of that bill at a White House rally, but since has called it “mean” and lobbied the Senate to approve an overhaul with “heart.” Key Trump administration officials have been lobbying lawmakers who have been holding out against the repeal.
Republicans have a 52-48 majority in the Senate, giving them little room for dissenters to oppose the repeal, since all Democrats say they will vote against the overhaul. If the vote on it ends in a 50-50 tie, Vice President Mike Pence is set to cast the deciding vote in favor of the repeal.
But several Republican lawmakers have voiced doubts about their party’s proposals, with some worried it could cut health care insurance for millions of people, especially narrowing coverage under the government’s health care program for poorer Americans.
One independent assessment of the Senate plan, by the Congressional Budget Office, said 22 million people would lose insurance to help pay their medical bills during the next decade, compared to coverage under Obamacare. The CBO is assessing several other Republican proposals to determine how they might affect the number of people covered and how much they would have to pay for insurance in the coming years.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said last week that if his party is unable to pass repeal legislation, then Republicans would have to join Democrats in revamping Obamacare to shore up faltering insurance coverage in some states, a bipartisan effort they so far have been unwilling to undertake.
No vote on the Republican repeal effort is expected this week, but could occur the following week as Congress moves toward its annual month-long vacation during August.