After the GOP delayed the Senate vote on new healthcare regulation until after the July 4 recess, it appears that major disagreement over the future of Medicaid could be a major roadblock to the party’s legislative plans. On July 27, it was announced that Republicans would not be achieving their goal of passing a vote before July 4, after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell was unable to get 50 Senators on board with the bill.
Republican leaders are now working on yet another revised version of the healthcare bill, with a view to keeping both moderate and conservatives in the Republican party happy. NBC News reported that a senior Republican aide claimed that GOP leaders are aiming to come to an agreement as early as this Friday, preparing for a vote to take place after the July 4 recess.
Following the announcement on June 27 that the vote would be delayed, most Republican senators boarded a bus and attended a meeting at the White House with President Trump. The President told the Republican senators that the Republican party has “no choice but to solve the situation” and that Obamacare “is melting down as we speak.”
After the meeting, McConnell said that President Trump was given a chance to hear from Senators who expressed their concerns about the current state of the bill. McConnel said that he thinks the meeting was helpful, and that everyone who was around the table is “interested in getting to yes” because they know that the status quo is unsustainable.
Will Medicaid be the Bill’s Downfall?
Cuts to the Medicaid social safety net have been the cause of great division within the GOP, with centrist Republicans leading a revolt against further cuts to the service. These same Republicans had previously accepted federal funding from President Obama’s Affordable Care Act, which expanded Medicaid rolls within their states. However, conservatives and libertarians within the party are highly supportive of making cuts to the program.
Centrist Republicans in the Senate include Shelley Moore Capito, Rob Portman, Susan Collins, and Dean Heller. To achieve these four important votes, Republicans drafting the bill must keep them happy by reducing the rollback of Medicaid. Owing to this fight, however, Mitch McConnell is struggling to win the support of conservatives or libertarians like Rand Paul.
Medicaid was less of a divisive issue during an earlier vote that took place in the House. A repeal-and-replace bill was passed in the House in May, though this legislation focused more on the guidelines for insurers.
Mitch McConnell Remains “Optimistic”
On Tuesday, McConnell met with the White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus and Vice President Mike Pence to discuss the bill. McConnell said that he remains optimistic a bill will pass. He told reporters on Tuesday that he will continue discussion with Republican senators to litigate the differences in opinion. Vice President Pence also said that his team will continue working until they “get it done.”
Republicans have agreed on at least one thing, and that was to delay the vote until later in July. This means that Republican leaders have a matter of weeks to agree on the taxes placed on the wealthy under the Affordable Care Act, and on other policies surrounding the healthcare system, without completely removing the structure put in place by Obamacare.
After the delay, however, Republicans are opening themselves up to further criticism. The Congressional Budget Office, a non-partisan group, recently published their analysis of the legislation and claimed that it would cause 22 million people to become uninsured by 2026.
Image source: Flickr