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Senate GOP reaches for way forward on repealing Obamacare

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell urged his troops Thursday to rally around a plan that puts Obamacare in the rear-view mirror, yet the effort faces an even steeper climb after Sen. John McCain’s shocking diagnosis with brain cancer.

“Now, dealing with this issue is right for the country. The fight to move beyond the status quo of Obamacare was certainly never going to be easy, but we’ve come a long way. I look forward to continuing our work together to finally bring relief,” Mr. McConnell said, while hailing Mr. McCain as an “American hero.”

President Trump has demanded a health care bill before senators leave for their August recess.

His personal pitch to Senate Republicans on Wednesday appeared to inject new optimism into the effort to simultaneously repeal and replace Obamacare. Yet the votes remained elusive, as negotiators mulled tweaks to the bill that was rejected by four Senate Republicans earlier in the week.

Mr. McConnell plans to force a vote to take up a health care bill next week. It’s still unclear whether senators would focus on a repeal-only bill or a plan to replacement the 2010 law.

“We’re not sure what we will be voting on,” Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer, New York Democrat, said.

Yet Mr. McCain might still be absent, leaving GOP leaders with only 51 votes and meaning more than one defection from a Republican plan could doom whatever plan they pursue.

Sen. Bob Corker, Tennessee Republican, announced his support Thursday for repealing the 2010 law now, with a transition period that forces “all sides” to come up with something else.

Yet Republicans abandoned that idea in January, and some still consider it risky. The Congressional Budget Office estimated that 32 million fewer people would hold insurance and premiums would double a decade from now, if Congress passed the “clean repeal” and failed to develop a workable replacement.

Archconservatives in the House, though, are itching to force a vote on a repeal-only bill, hoping to create momentum for the idea and put members on the record, even though their chamber passed a replacement plan in May.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and senior Democrats urged Republicans to drop their repeal push and bolster the Obamacare markets, starting with guaranteed funding for “cost-sharing” payments that reimburse insurers who lose money on low-income customers.

They also want to establish a permanent “reinsurance” program that assists insurers who take on high-cost customers.

“Stop playing games with the ACA. Work with us,” said Rep. Frank Pallone, New Jersey Democrat.

Source: www.washingtontimes.com stories: Politics

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