WASHINGTON– Four of the Senate’s most conservative members said they will not support the upper chamber’s version of the House-approved Obamacare repeal and replacement bill in its current form.
“Currently, for a variety of reasons, we are not ready to vote for this bill, but we are open to negotiation and obtaining more information before it is brought to the floor. There are provisions in this draft that represent an improvement to our current healthcare 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 healthcare costs,” Senators Ted Cruz (Texas), Rand Paul (Ky.) Mike Lee (Utah) and Ron Johnson (Wis.) said in a joint statement Thursday afternoon following the bill’s online release.
The House of Representatives last month narrowly passed a revised version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA).
The Senate version mostly mirrors the House bill but would allow for the continuance of federal subsidies that under the Affordable Care Act are allocated to those who cannot afford to pay their monthly health insurance premiums.
The debate over subsidy continuance proved contentious among conservative and moderate Republicans in lower the chamber. The issue will likely again become contentious when the bill comes to the Senate floor.
Senate Republican leaders hope to vote on the AHCA by June 29th so as to have sealed the deal before Congress’ one-week Fourth of July recess.
Democrats earlier this week mounted a late-night protest via parliamentary inquiries to try and force Republicans to bring the bill out into the open as well as agree to hold hearings upon its release.
Republicans reportedly crafted the legislation behind closed doors.
The AHCA mandates coverage for the sick and those with preexisting conditions but also allows insurers to charge higher rates to those persons if they experience a lapse in coverage.
The AHCA also would allow states under certain circumstances to apply for waivers that exempt insurance companies from having to cover many of the essential health benefits that are guaranteed under the Affordable Care Act.
The CBO in May estimated that the AHCA would strip 23 million Americans of their health coverage over the next decade, but also would reduce the federal deficit by $119 billion over the same duration. The CBO estimated that the original bill would have stripped 24 million people of their health coverage.
The CBO is expected to issue a score on the Senate AHCA early next week.
Democrats have long opposed repealing the Affordable Care Act and have instead tried to convince Republicans to work toward fixing problems associated with the law. Many Democrats have referred to the AHCA as “Trumpcare.”