A seven year effort spearheaded by the Republican party to overturn the Affordable Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, was dealt a crushing blow in the early morning hours of July 28th after three Republicans senators broke ranks and joined their Democratic colleagues in voting no on what came to be known as the “skinny repeal”.
Officially titled the Health Care Freedom Act, the “skinny repeal” was hastily drawn up after a health care bill failed in the Senate and a repeal with no replacement was struck down as well. The text of the bill was finally introduced to the Senate at 10 p.m, two hours before the scheduled vote.
The final tally after a week long scramble to procure enough votes was 51 to 49, with Senator John McCain casting the deciding vote after returning to the Senate following a brain cancer diagnosis. Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska provided the other two Republican nay votes.
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell acknowledged the outcome of the vote, stating “this is clearly a disappointing moment” on the Senate floor. McConnell led the fight to repeal the Affordable Care Act and lent his support to overturning the health plan without a replacement, an act which would have resulted in 32 million people losing their health insurance.
The skinny repeal bill was a last ditch effort by McConnell to roll back critical Obamacare provisions, including federal funding to Planned Parenthood for at least a year, delaying a tax on medical devices, and doing away with the individual mandate that requires every American be insured or risk a fine.
Defeat of the bill cast another shadow over the Trump Administration, which has been struggling through a particularly difficult week after staff shake ups, historically low poll numbers, and the ongoing investigation of Russian ties to the Trump campaign.
President Trump dedicated much of his campaign rhetoric to ensuring voters that he would repeal and replace Obamacare once he entered the White House but a bipartisan replacement has not yet emerged.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that if the skinny repeal passed, 15 million fewer Americans would be insured in 2018 than under current law. Despite these sobering figures and the skinny repeal’s polled support from the public barely topping the single digits, President Trump tweeted that the three dissenting Republicans and the Democrats “let the American people down”.
Senate minority leader Charles Schumer said that it was time “to turn the page”.
“We are not celebrating. We are relieved,” he stated.
All in all, a very good outcome. Of course we need single payer healthcare, like every sane nation has, but for now Obamacare is we have, and it’s better then nothing. This story is rather humorous, we got to see turtle man near tears (Mitch McConnell), we got to see Trump throw another Twitter tantrum (usually pretty entering to see Trump cry about his failures on Twitter) and last but not least, we witnessed McCain vote against the repeal. Trump (the draft dodger), will regret the day he said a Vietnam vet isn’t a war hero. Normally McCain is an insanely hawkish war monger with a spotty voting record, but I have to applaud him today.