McCain Throws Support Behind Graham-Cassidy Obamacare Repeal Effort

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., walks from his Senate office as Congress returns from the August recess to face work on immigration, the debt limit, funding the government, and help for victims of Hurricane Harvey, in Washington, Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2017.  Earlier, McCain declared President Donald Trump’s decision to phase out an Obama administration program that has protected hundreds of thousands of young immigrants “the wrong approach” at a time when Republicans and Democrats need to work together.  (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite)
J. Scott Applewhite/AP

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) said Wednesday that he would support a plan to repeal Obamacare led by Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA).

”Yes. You think I wouldn’t be?” McCain told reporters Wednesday, asked if he would support the legislation, the Hill reported.

Arizona’s senior senator, whose close friendship with Graham is well known, affirmed that he thought the bill, in The Hill’s words, “has legs before Sept. 30.”

The Graham-Cassidy legislation would essentially dismantle much of Obamacare’s federal infrastructure, turning over federal dollars to the states to do with what they wish, though that flexibility at the state level would come at a sharp cost. Judith Solomon, vice president for health policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, told Politico on August 1 that she estimated it would result in 16 percent less federal spending in 2020 versus the Obamacare status quo’s spending on Medicaid expansion and market subsidies.

McCain was one of three Republican votes against Senate Republicans’ Obamacare repeal effort in late July. Notably, he objected as much to the process by which the legislation had arrived in the Senate for a vote as to the content of the effort itself. McCain is a sometimes loud proponent of so-called “regular order.”

We must now return to the correct way of legislating,” he said after voting the effort down, “and send the bill back to committee, hold hearings, receive input from both sides of aisle, heed the recommendations of nation’s governors, and produce a bill that finally delivers affordable health care for the American people.”

On Wednesday, McCain said it would be a “mistake” if the Graham-Cassidy legislation didn’t follow regular order, but that “it doesn’t mean I wouldn’t vote for it.”