According to White House Director of Legislative Affairs Marc Short, the Trump administration is “planning” that the Senate will vote on “Graham-Cassidy” health care bill this week. Speaking to show host Chuck Todd on Sunday’s “Meet The Press,” Short said he expects that Wednesday will be the day. “There are millions of Americans who will benefit from this bill,” Short said. “In fact, we think every state will benefit.”

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said earlier that Republicans “intend” to consider the legislation this week, which seeks to restructure health care and repeal some elements of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare. Whether the bill comes up for a vote at all this week remains in doubt, especially since it was just last week that four key Republican senators, including John McCain of Arizona, in opposing the bill.

McCain announced on Friday that he would oppose the latest proposal to repeal the Affordable Care Act. In July, McCain went until the middle of the night to finally give his thumbs-down to repealing Obamacare. On Friday, he said that he could not “in good conscience” give his support for the bill that is proposed by his best friend in the Senate. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC). In a statement, McCain said, “I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried.” McCain said, “Nor could I support it without knowing how much it will cost, how it will affect insurance premiums, and how many people will be helped or hurt by it.” Republican Senators Rand Paul of Kentucky, Susan Collins of Maine, and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska have expressed opposition to the bill.

At the end of September is a deadline to pass a reform bill without a 60-vote majority, which could be Republicans’ last opportunity to dismantle Obamacare this year. 

Speaking on “Meet the Press,” Sen. Paul set the bar very high for his vote. A perennial critic of the bill, he said, "This is a bad idea, it’s not repeal." Paul said, "The Graham-Cassidy bill basically keeps most of the Obamacare spending, almost all of the spending, and just reshuffles and block grants it to the states." He added, "So, block granting Obamacare doesn't make it go away. It just means you're keeping all the money we've spending through Obamacare, most of it, reshuffling it, taking the money from Democrat states and giving it to Republican states. I think what it sets up is a perpetual food fight over the formula."

However, Paul said that if the party can "remove the block grants" or set the "block grants at pre-Obama levels," he could vote in favor of it. However, block grants are part and parcel of the Graham-Cassidy bill. It would remove Obamacare’s mandate that individuals must purchase insurance, and also eliminate the requirement for some employers to offer insurance plans to their employees. It would also use funds that would have gone to the Medicaid expansion under Obamacare and replace them with block grants to the states, which in turn would disburse them in their own insurance systems. 



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Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat and the editor of Spero News.

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