Senate Delays Vote On Obamacare Repeal Bill Until After July 4 Recess

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Multiple reports are claiming that Senate Republican leadership has decided to delay the vote on a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care, following a Congressional Budget Office review estimating that 22 million additional Americans will be without healthcare if the bill passes as it is.

The Wall Street Journal reports that the Senate vote will not take place before the upcoming 10-day July 4 recess.

Supporters of the bill had hoped to get that vote complete before the holiday in order to keep momentum going. Since the Senate bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act, is a different piece of legislation from the one passed last month by the House, it still needs approval by that chamber of Congress.

Some moderate GOP lawmakers applauded the delay. Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who had raised concerns about the bill’s impact on older Americans, Medicaid, and Planned Parenthood, called the decision, “good, because I don’t think we’re ready to proceed today. This person is not ready to proceed today.”

President Trump has called senate leaders to the White House for an afternoon meeting to discuss the bill. In recent days, he’s spoken with several senators, including Ron Johnson (WI), Rand Paul (KY), and Ted Cruz (TX), about their various problems with the bill, but to no apparent avail.

Though the legislation is being considered as a budget resolution — meaning supporters would only need 51 votes to pass the bill, and not the usual 60 votes to invoke cloture and end a filibuster — small groups of moderate Republicans and hardline conservatives have raised the question of whether or not the GOP could even get to 50 votes, with Vice President Mike Pence breaking the tie.

After weeks of closed-door meetings with members of a 13-senator working group, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell finally unveiled the BCRA last week, with the intention of getting the vote in before the July 4 holiday. It was released as a “draft” proposal with the intimation that changes would be forthcoming to help win enough support for the legislation.

However, the only revision that has been made public thus far is the addition of a 6-month mandatory waiting period for people who purchase insurance on the individual market after letting their current coverage lapse for at least 63 days. The purpose of this provision is to encourage people to stay insured and not drop their coverage, but the CBO report concluded that it would have minimal impact on the number of people who go without insurance. Under current law, you can start insurance immediately but there is a financial penalty for those who elect to go without coverage.