Jul 24 2017

Yellowhammer News: Democrats and a Few Republicans Force Alabamians to Keep Obamacare—For Now

By: Larry Huff 

In a move few would have envisioned in the Republican exuberance of late 2016, the U.S. Senate’s plan to repeal and replace Obamacare never made it to a vote. What remains unclear this afternoon, is whether or not a straight repealof the health care law is still on the table. i

Speaking of the original repeal and replace measure, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said, “Regretfully, it’s now apparent that the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare will not be successful.”

Expressing his frustration at the measure’s failure, President Trump Tweeted:

“We were let down by all of the Democrats and a few Republicans. Most Republicans were loyal, terrific & worked really hard. We will return!

The Republicans he was referring to are Rand Paul (Kentucky), Susan Collins (Maine), Mike Lee (Utah), and Jerry Moran (Kansas). With those four defections, it was mathematically impossible for the Republicans to get the 51 votes they needed to repeal and replace Obama care.

Despite the fact that Republican defections were the final straw in blocking the measure, the White House made no bones about blaming Democrats. With every single Senate Democrat holding firm to keep the system that’s led to rising premiums, unaffordable deductibles, fewer insurance choices, and higher taxes, the White House has made its frustrations clear.

As White House deputy press secretary Sarah Sanders said today,

“They’re responsible for being unwilling to work with Republicans in any capacity…The failure of Obamacare, I think, rests solely on the shoulders of Democrats.”

While the effort to repeal and replace the ACA was unsuccessful, this morning the President and Senate Republican leadership suggested a straight repeal the Obamacare.

As the President Tweeted, “Republicans should just REPEAL failing ObamaCare now & work on a new Healthcare Plan that will start from a clean slate. Dems will join in!”

Alabama’s senior Senator, Richard Shelby agreed, stating:

“Americans have experienced soaring healthcare premiums, swelling deductibles, staggering job loss, and unprecedented tax hikes under Obamacare.  The Senate’s effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare is no longer a possibility, but I remain committed to repealing this deeply flawed law.  The Republican-led Senate is now working on a different approach to bring the American people relief, voting to repeal Obamacare and include a two-year transition period as we work toward patient-centered health care.  The Senate passed the same repeal legislation in 2015, and this time, if passed, the President will sign it.

Senator Luther Strange also supports the straight repeal, adding, “There are no two ways about it: Obamacare is failing, and it’s leaving Alabamians with tough choices or no choices at all. Repealing this law has been the Republican promise since day one, and it’s a promise I will fight to deliver.”

The Senate Republican Caucus met at lunchtime today to discuss strategies, but as the afternoon unfolded, it appeared that even a straight repeal may now be in jeopardy because of more defecting Republicans joining the solid block of intractable Democrats. Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Shelley Moore West Virginia joined Collins of Maine saying they would not back a straight repeal, which means that vote may also be withdrawn.

Tomorrow will probably tell whether or not the repeal-only idea will also fail, but if it does, one thing is clear, this debate is far from over. As Senator Shelby concluded,

“We cannot give up.  The American people deserve a health hcare law that provides more choices and affordable premiums.”