Maine's Collins puts another nail in coffin of Obamacare repeal

John McCain diagnosed with a fatal tumour is well enough to play a central role in the vote on healthcare reforms

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been planning to bring the bill to the Senate floor for a vote next week, setting up what would be another dramatic decision on a 2010 law that President Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans have vowed to dismantle. John McCain, R-Ariz., announced in a statement on Friday that he can not support the Graham-Cassidy health care bill.

Sens. Rand Paul and John McCain have already announced they are against it, leaving the bill within one vote of failure and earning them criticism from President Trump.

"It's a little tougher without McCain's vote, but we've got some time", Trump said, acknowledging the difficulty in passing the Senate health care bill before a critical September 30 deadline.

Graham remained optimistic that McCain would eventually support the bill, telling an ABC affiliate on Thursday, "He won't vote because of our friendship, I would never ask him".

While President Donald Trump tweeted Saturday that Paul "may find a way to get there for the good of the party", there is limited optimism on that front on Capitol Hill.

He continued: "Arizona had a 116% increase in ObamaCare premiums a year ago, with deductibles very high".

McCain, who is battling brain cancer in the twilight of a remarkable career, said he could not "in good conscience" vote for the legislation.

The CBO, or Congressional Budget Office, could only offer a partial assessment of the Graham-Cassidy bill's effect on the federal deficit as well as how many people it would cover.

Senator John Mc Cain on his turn to Capitol Hill in Washington after begin diagnosed in July with a tumour
AARON P. BERNSTEIN REUTERS Senator John Mc Cain on his turn to Capitol Hill in Washington after begin diagnosed in July with a tumour

"I can not in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal", McCain of Arizona said in a statement. The issue is too important, and too many lives are at risk, for us to leave the American people guessing from one election to the next whether and how they will acquire health insurance.

McCain said he would consider supporting a proposal similar to the Graham-Cassidy bill if it were "the product of extensive hearings, debate and amendment". "The problem I have with block grants is that looks like I've affirmatively said I'm okay with 90 percent of Obamacare as long as we reshuffle it and give it to Republican states".

The embattled Republican effort to repeal the nation's health-care law now centers on winning over a hard-line conservative, Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) have expressed skepticism about it. Rand Paul and other Republicans who might oppose the GOP's last-gasp effort to topple the Obama health care law. "They're going to have to decide whether they're willing to do that without block granting", Paul said.

"We should not be content to pass health care legislation on a party-line basis, as Democrats did when they rammed Obamacare through Congress in 2009", McCain said.

Collins' comments were consistent with what she told reporters Friday that she was "leaning against" the bill, according to The Portland Press Herald. Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy.

The Senate should heed his advice before acting on a measure opposed by the National Association of Medicaid Directors. Murkowski hasn't committed on the bill. "But that has not been the case", he said in a statement on Friday. States that expanded their Medicaid programs, including California and NY, would face the biggest cuts, while Texas and some states in the Deep South and West would fare better. Paul fired back, calling the Senate bill "fake repeal" and saying the White House just wants a victory without caring about the legislation's details.

The measure would end the Affordable Care Act's requirements that individuals have insurance and that most employers provide it. A vote taken any later than that would have to garner at least 60 votes for passage.

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