A group of Republican senators have declared their opposition to the Senate’s version of Obamacare reform.
Senators Rand Paul, R-Ky., Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Ron Johnson, R-Wisc., have released a joint statement announcing they are opposing the Senate’s version of the Obamacare bill in its current form.
Statement from. Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Mike Lee, Ron Johnson (!) opposing health care bill as it currently stands pic.twitter.com/oxwwvdTapo— James Arkin (@JamesArkin) June 22, 2017
“Currently, for a variety of reasons, we are not ready to vote for this bill,” the senators said, noting that they are “open to negotiation” before the bill goes to the floor of the Senate for a vote. Their chief charge against the Senate bill is that it simply does not repeal Obamacare.
“There are provisions in this draft that represent an improvement to our current health care system, but it does not appear this draft as written will accomplish the most important promise that we made to Americans: to repeal Obamacare and lower their health care costs.”
The Republican caucus is fractured between conservatives who want to see the GOP keep its longtime campaign promises with a full repeal bill and progressive Republicans who want to keep key elements of Obamacare in place.
The Senate version of the bill does not repeal several parts of Obamacare, including costly insurance regulations that are driving up the cost of premiums and deductibles. More moderate Republicans argue that these so-called “patient protections” are necessary.
While the bill does immediately repeal the individual and employer mandates that penalize individuals and business owners who do not purchase health insurance, by keeping Obamacare’s regulations in place and removing these mandates – which fund the subsidies that keep health insurance costs artificially low for many – the death spiral in insurance markets will be exacerbated rather than fixed.
Ultimately, the problems with the Republican bill were best expressed by Senator Rand Paul earlier Thursday, when he said he believes that the Senate bill does not repeal Obamacare. “My concern at this point, from what I’ve been able to see so far is that it looks like we’re keeping Obamacare, not repealing it.” At first glance, Paul said that the legislation “actually subsidizes the death spiral of Obamacare.”
Speaking to reporters after the joint statement was released, Sen. Paul said “I didn’t run on Obamacare-lite.”
With a 52-seat majority in the U.S. Senate, Republicans can only afford to lose two GOP votes on the bill. With four GOP Senators announcing their opposition, the current bill is dead.
Now the negotiations to improve the bill begin. Ultimately, however, anything short of a full repeal bill will fail to address the intrinsic problems in health insurance markets caused by Obamacare.
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