ACA repeal update: meeting set for today

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence plan to meet with 13 Republican senators today to discuss the progress of the replacement bill for the Affordable Care Act (ACA).

Republican senators have continued to work behind closed doors to craft their version of the ACA repeal bill.

Senator Mitch McConnell explained that Senate Republicans may not have the 50 votes needed to get their eventual draft passed. To pass the Senate, the bill can afford to lose just two Republican votes. McConnell reportedly told Senate Republicans that “failure is not an option” and he wants a vote on the bill in June. Many, however, expect that a vote is unlikely before July.

Senators’ comments have reflected a far-from-united front. "It's like having a baby," said Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn. "It's not here yet, but it's coming." Senator Mike Lee said that he remains undecided about how he’ll vote on the bill, based upon what he has seen and heard.

Senator Lindsey Graham doesn’t sound convinced on the pending GOP bill either; he said that Republicans should let the ACA collapse and then “force Democrats” to rebuild the system. “My advice is if we can’t replace Obamacare by ourselves, go to the Democrats and say this: 10% of the sick people in this country drive 90% of the cost for all of us. Let’s take those 10% of really sick people and put them in a federal managed care system so they’ll get better outcomes.”

Moderate Republicans have been careful to advocate for the protection of ACA provisions that protect patients, but conservative Republicans have sought to immediately repeal many of the ACA’s landmark provisions to dramatically reduce insurance premiums.

The bill has been drafted behind closed doors, and many Senators report being unsure about the details of the legislation. Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson said, “I want to know exactly what is going to be in the Senate bill, I don’t know yet. It’s not a good process.” Even Senator Graham told reporters he didn’t know any details about the bill other than that “they’re writing it.”

Read more:

Ali Rogin, Republican senators float alternatives to comprehensive Obamacare replacement bill, ABC News (June 12, 2017).

Jessie Hellmann, Trump, Pence to meet with GOP senators on ObamaCare repeal, The Hill (June 12, 2017).

Burgess Everett, Senate GOP reins in expectations for killing Obamacare, Politico (June 12, 2017)

Lauren Fox & Phil Mattingly, Closed-door drama of GOP health care talks, CNN (June 12, 2017).

© 2017 Jackson LLP