Graham-Cassidy Healthcare Bill Fails to Reach Senate Vote

The last of multiple majority leader attempts to repeal the Affordable Care Act lacked confident support.

A decision on the Graham-Cassidy Senate healthcare bill was made before there was even a vote cast.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA) repeal draft was rejected from reaching vote Tuesday afternoon, after multiple Senate majority leaders expressed opposition to its details. Susan Collins (R-ME) joined John McCain (R-AZ) and Rand Paul (R-KY) this week in publicly rejecting the Republican party’s newest attempt at repealing the ACA.

Majority leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced the decision to keep the bill from vote on the Senate floor. Bill Cassidy (R-LA), coauthor of the bill along with Lindsey Graham (R-SC), said on Tuesday that Republicans did not have the votes, adding that he was “absolutely” disappointed in the outcome.

The Graham-Cassidy bill summarily proposed turning ACA funds into state block grants, effectively cutting Medicaid funding to states that expanded their programs — while leaving ACA taxes intact.

McConnell said the Senate majority has still not given up on “changing the American health care system.”

“We are not going to be able to do that this week, but it still lies ahead of us, and we haven’t given up on that,” McConnell said.

President Donald Trump echoed similar sentiments, noting that “at some point” there will be a repeal and replace of the ACA. He expressed disappointment in “so-called Republicans” who swayed the vote from majority rule.

The failed bill follows the majority leaders’ “Better Care Reconciliation Act” (BCRA) draft, of which a revised version was rejected by vote in July. Collins, Paul, and McCain similarly opposed the BCRA.

The significant difference of this most recent repeal rejection is that it may have been the Republican party’s last attempt. The GOP’s ability to fast-track their own bill ends Saturday, when a Democratic filibuster against repeal is no longer blocked.

Graham said Republicans will return to repeal efforts after tax reform sessions end, noting it’s only “a matter of when” a repeal will be enacted. The next best opportunity for a potential ACA — informally called “Obamacare” — repeal could come in the 2019 fiscal year, beginning next October, Graham said.

Democratics, as they had following the BRCA rejection this summer, expressed openness to bipartisan efforts in healthcare reform.

“We hope we can move forward and improve health care, not engage in another battle to take it away from people, because they will fail once again if they try,” minority leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said.

Trump may be open to minority involvement moving forward. Representative Richard Neal (D-MA) said the president made it clear “he was going to work with Democrats on a plan” if his healthcare interests weren’t met, according to CNN.