Millions of Americans have once again won a reprieve from losing their healthcare coverage after the narrow failure of Mitch McConnell’s latest scheme to eviscerate the Patient Protection Act in the United States Senate.
By a vote of fifty-one to forty-nine, the Senate rejected McConnell’s Amendment No. 667, the latest iteration of Trumpcuts. Amendment No. 667 would have gutted some key provisions of the Patient Protection Act, including the individual mandate and one of the law’s funding sources. The New York Times explains:
The so-called “skinny” repeal bill, as it became known at the Capitol this week, would still have broad effects on health care. The bill would increase the number of people who are uninsured by 15 million next year compared with current law, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office. Premiums for people buying insurance on their own would increase by roughly 20 percent, the budget office said.
The new, eight-page Senate bill, called the Health Care Freedom Act, was unveiled just hours before the vote. It would end the requirement that most people have health coverage, known as the individual mandate,, but it would not put in place other incentives for people to obtain coverage — a situation that insurers say would leave them with a pool of sicker, costlier customers. It would also end the requirement that large employers offer coverage to their workers.
The “skinny repeal” would delay a tax on medical devices. It would also cut off federal funds for Planned Parenthood for one year and increase federal grants to community health centers. And it would increase the limit on contributions to tax-favored health savings accounts.
In addition, the bill would make it much easier for states to waive federal requirements that health insurance plans provide consumers with a minimum set of benefits like maternity care and prescription drugs. It would also eliminate funds provided by the Affordable Care Act for a wide range of prevention and public health programs.
McConnell was able to persuade Dean Heller of Nevada, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, and several other wavering members of his caucus to back his latest attempt to ram Trumpcuts through the U.S. Senate. McConnell has been desperately trying to get some form of repeal bill through the Senate to give Donald Trump a legislative victory.
But in the end, he could not get to fifty votes.
John McCain cast the decisive “nay” vote that doomed the evil “skinny repeal” iteration of Trumpcuts, joining Lisa Murkowski and Susan Collins in breaking with the Republican caucus. Only two days ago, it was McCain who provided the pivotal fiftieth vote needed for McConnell to resurrect Trumpcuts. With his vote tonight, the demon is back in the bottle, so to speak, at least for the time being.
“From the beginning, I have believed that [the Patient Protection Act] should be repealed and replaced with a solution that increases competition, lowers costs, and improves care for the American people,” said McCain.
“The so-called ‘skinny repeal’ amendment the Senate voted on today would not accomplish those goals. While the amendment would have repealed some of [PPA’s] most burdensome regulations, it offered no replacement to actually reform our health care system and deliver affordable, quality health care to our citizens. The Speaker’s statement that the House would be ‘willing’ to go to conference does not ease my concern that this shell of a bill could be taken up and passed at any time.”
McConnell’s bitterness was on full display. The Kentucky senator could barely bring himself to look at his Democratic colleagues.
“This is clearly a disappointing moment,” McConnell said as Americans watching on television all over the country rejoiced in his latest failure to take away the healthcare of millions. “Yes, this is a disappointment. A disappointment indeed.”
For him, maybe. Not for us. This is another victory for our patriotic resistance.
Democrats expressed great relief that Trumpcuts had been thwarted again.
“We’ve stopped this attack on health care, yet again. Thank you @PattyMurray and @SenatorCantwell for standing up for the Evergreen State,” tweeted Washington Governor Jay Inslee, who, like many of us, stayed up to watch the vote.
“Tonight, the voices of millions of Americans were heard. Your stories, your phone calls, your emails, your advocacy, and all of your hard work paid off. Tonight, we were able to protect Medicaid, protect the Affordable Care Act, and preserve coverage for millions of Americans,” said Senator Maria Cantwell.
“Now we must chart a path to progress. We need to find bipartisan solutions, particularly in the individual health insurance market, to drive down costs, increase access, and innovate in the health care delivery system.”
The roll call from the Pacific Northwest on Amendment 667 was as follows:
VOTING AYE: Republican Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch (ID), Steve Daines (MT), Dan Sullivan (AK)
VOTING NAY: Democratic Senators Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell (WA), Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden (OR), Jon Tester (MT); Republican Lisa Murkowski (AK)
The vote on Amendment 667 was identical to the vote to advance Trumpcuts on Tuesday, with the exception of John McCain’s “nay” vote.