Washington, D.C.–Senate Republicans scrambled in their latest attempt to repeal and replace the widely popular Affordable Care Act (ACA) as the clock ticked down on a procedural window that would allow them to pass their health care reform bill by simple majority.
The proposed legislation, identified as the Graham-Cassidy Health Bill, had been harshly criticized by most Americans who support the ACA. In addition, many health care providers, insurance companies, and businesses took public positions against the legislation.
The Graham-Cassidy Bill would repeal insurance subsidies, end the Medicaid expansion, replace ACA spending with block grants to states, eliminate health exchanges and allow higher premiums for pre-existing conditions. In addition, according to estimates by Goldman-Sachs, it would impact the economy. Since the implementation of ACA, more than 500,000 new jobs were added to the healthcare sector, jobs that would be sorely impacted with the passage of Graham-Cassidy.
The Republican Party could only afford to lose two votes or the legislation would fail. As of Monday morning, Senators Rand Paul (R-Kentucky) and John McCain (R-Arizona) had already come out publicly against the legislation, while others were on the fence, leaning toward a “no” vote.
Monday morning, the Republican party revealed an updated version of Graham-Cassidy to include “sweeteners” for Alaska in the hope of wooing a “yes” vote from Alaska Senator Lisa Murkowski, who voted “no” on the party’s previous repeal attempt. The Alaska sweeteners included grandfathering Native Alaskans into Medicaid, allowing them to keep their coverage when the law rolled back the expanded coverage in 2020.
The revision also provided a special enhancement for states with low population densities, which would ensure rural states like Alaska be guaranteed at least five percent of federal funds associated with the program. Alaska would also be guaranteed an additional four percent more in funding than it currently receives.
Further analysis of the revision revealed other states represented by senators whose “yes” votes were essential to passing the Graham-Cassidy Bill were also targeted for increases in federal health care funds. Maine, represented by Senator Susan Collins, another potential “no” vote, would receive a 43 percent increase; Arizona, represented by McCain, would receive a 14 percent increase; and Kentucky, represented by Paul, would benefit from a four percent increase.
Late Monday afternoon, Senator Collins announced she would vote “no,” bringing the number of publicly affirmed “no” votes to three and ending the Republican party’s latest attempt to repeal ACA.