John McCain and the Sunday Talk Shows Were Eerily Quiet About a Last-Ditch Effort to Repeal Obamacare

Personal Health

With the clock ticking toward a September 30 deadline for the Senate to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act using reconcilliation, which only requires 50 votes, John McCain and the Sunday morning news shows were strangely silent on the last-ditch Graham-Cassidy bill.

As you may recall, on July 28, John McCain cast his dramatic "no" vote killing the Health Care Freedom Act, misleadingly nicknamed the "skinny repeal." Senators Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine also voted no on the bill. You also may recall some Republican senators called a press conference to emphasize it was a bad bill and they were voting for it solely to keep the repeal effort alive, and assuring citizens it would be improved in reconcilliation with the House. Rand Paul voted yes, immediately following the defeat of his "clean" repeal 45/55, buying into the keep-the-ball-rolling rationale.

Senator McCain is bosom buddies with Senate co-sponsor Lindsey Graham, so his "no" vote is not guaranteed again. McCain was interviewed on "Face the Nation," and health care never came up. Ditto their pundit roundtable.

On "Meet the Press," Senator Bernie Sanders was asked about his new Medicare for All bill, and the continuing Republican efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare. Sanders said, "The immediate concern is to beat back these disastrous Republican proposals that would throw millions and millions of people off of the health insurance they have, raise premiums for older workers very substantially, cut Medicaid by hundreds of billions. That is the immediate concern."

And that was all she wrote on "Meet the Press." 

On "This Week" George Stephanopoulous asked Jonathan Karl, "We all assumed repeal and replace was dead. This effort is coming back, there is a September 30th deadline. Can it actually pass?" Karl responded, "They need 50 votes, and you're not going to have Rand Paul, he's going to be against anything, you're not going to have Susan Collins, so it may all come down to one senator, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska. There is a renewed effort, and part of this is driven by Trump's willingness to work with Democrats. So if Republicans can't do this, he'll strike a deal with Democrats."    

Rand Paul appears to have curiously flipped from his previous "yes" vote based on recent tweets and seems to be a safer bet, but there is no definitive word from Collins or Murkowski.

As Sanders made clear, the Graham-Cassidy Bill is as draconian as previous repeal-and-replace bills. No CBO scoring has been released, but the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities points out the bill will "eliminate the ACA core provisions for people with pre-existing conditions," eliminate the individual mandate, replace Medicaid funding with stingier block grants, and result in 32 million people losing health care coverage.

The odds seem low the Senate can overcome the hurdles, pass parliamentarian muster and secure the votes, but until September 30 comes and passes, we need to remain vigilant and keep the pressure on. 

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