Cameron Joseph contributed reporting.
Less than 24 hours after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) threw in the towel on his bill repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act and vowed to instead revive a 2015 bill to repeal the law without a replacement, three Republican senators said they would block that bill from coming to the floor for debate.
Sens. Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV), whose states all have large rural and low-income populations dependent on Medicaid, said they will vote against a motion to proceed.
“I did not come to Washington to hurt people,” Capito wrote in a blistering statement. “I have serious concerns about how we continue to provide affordable care to those who have benefited from West Virginia’s decision to expand Medicaid, especially in light of the growing opioid crisis.”
“I cannot vote to repeal Obamacare without a replacement plan,” she concluded.
Collins, who voted against repeal-and-delay in 2015, wrote in her own statement that Obamacare is now “so interwoven with our health care system” that scrapping it without a ready alternative would cause “uncertainty” and “turmoil.” She called instead for Senate leaders to instead hold hearings on policies to fix Obamacare.
A few hours later, Murkowski confirmed to reporters that she too will vote against a motion to proceed. “There’s enough chaos and uncertainty already and this would just contribute to it,” she said.
With her defection, the repeal-and-delay effort met the same swift fate as the last Senate Trumpcare bill: dead before it even receives a vote. Additionally, with Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) at home recovering from surgery, Republicans are even further short of the votes they need to proceed.
Additionally, several other senators who did not come out as hard no votes on the new repeal-and-delay plan aired sharp criticisms of the move and their ability to vote for the 2015 bill.
Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), another lawmaker from a Medicaid expansion state, told MSNBC that he believes repeal-and-delay “will lead to more uncertainty and the potential for Ohioans to pay even higher premiums and deductibles.”
“I’m concerned about something that would simply repeal,” he said.
— Bradd Jaffy (@BraddJaffy) July 18, 2017
Sens. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) and Dean Heller (R-NV)—once again, lawmakers hailing from Medicaid expansion states—aired criticisms of leadership’s new plan as well, saying it could lead to widespread uncertainty and higher costs in the health insurance market.
The Congressional Budget Office analysis of the 2015 repeal bill now under consideration found it would cause 32 million people to lose their insurance, hike premiums for millions more and increase the federal deficit by hundreds of billions of dollars.