The Washington Post reports that Republicans’ latest attempt to undo the Affordable Care Act has stalled. Sen. Susan Collins (R-Maine) formally announced her opposition to the Graham-Cassidy legislation on Monday evening.
Since all Democrats and Independents in the Senate were united in opposition to Graham-Cassidy, the Republicans could only afford two defections. Collins is the third GOP defection, as Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) had previously come out against the bill.
The Republicans held a hearing on the Graham-Cassidy legislation before Collins made her announcement.
It was a contentious hearing, with many protestors in attendance. Hatch was forced to adjourn for police officers to arrest and remove some protestors. Pictures of people in wheelchairs being arrested drew condemnation from some corners of social media.
After the hearing, Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin G. Hatch (R-Utah), said, “Everybody knows that’s going to fail.”
While Graham-Cassidy enjoyed support from Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and the Trump administration, it was plagued by some of the same issues that torpedoed the last Republican health care bill back in July.
Collins made her announcement shortly after the Congressional Budget Office released an analysis that predicted “millions” would lose health insurance in the coming years if Graham-Cassidy became law. The CBO also forecast a $1 trillion cut to Medicaid between 2018 and 2026.
While Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn (R-Texas) said Graham-Cassidy still might come up for a vote in the Senate, there is also the possibility that other Republican senators could formally announce their opposition. Sen. Ted Cruz informally registered his opposition to the bill, and Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) has not formally decided.
Graham-Cassidy was redrafted to grant concessions to Alaska and Maine in an attempt to win over Collins and Murkowski, but it appears this strategy was not successful.
Collins said Congressional leadership and President Trump lobbied hard for her vote. She told the president she was unlikely to vote yes and told him she believed the Republicans were moving too quickly.
Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) had been working with Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) on bipartisan legislation before Graham-Cassidy was introduced. There is a possibility the two senators might pick up where they left off. Their legislation would combine subsidies and waivers to help stabilize insurance marketplaces.