President Donald Trump’s party is struggling to secure the votes to get its bill through the Senate. Republican Senator Ron Johnson said on Sunday there should “no way” be a vote on the legislation this week. At least five Republicans are opposed to their party’s bill, which can only afford to lose two votes.
The Senate bill would slash taxes for the wealthy while imposing cuts on Medicaid, a healthcare programme for the poor, and offer less help for working families to buy medical insurance.
House of Representatives minority leader Nancy Pelosi told CBS This Morning on Monday: “We do know that many more people – millions, hundreds of thousands – of people will die if this bill passes. “These bills systemically, structurally, they are very, very harmful to the American people.
“They will raise costs with fewer benefits, have an age tax, they will undermine Medicare.”
Republicans have rejected the notion that anyone will die as a result of their healthcare plan. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that 23 million people would lose their health insurance over the next 10 years if Congress passed a Republican health plan approved by the House.
An estimate by the same agency is scheduled to be released this week for the Senate bill. On Monday, Republicans issued a revised version of their bill, imposing a six-month waiting period to get medical insurance for those who allow their coverage to lapse for more than two months.
With not a single Democrat supporting the bill, Republicans face some legislative arm-twisting to rally their rank and file. But Wisconsin’s Ron Johnson has moved to put the brakes on the party leadership’s plan to hold a vote this week.
The bill’s defenders will say it repeals Obamacare’s taxes and reduces Medicaid spending growth. That’s true. But it also boosts spending on subsidies, and it leaves in place the pre-existing-condition rules that drive up the cost of insurance for everyone.
Also on Sunday, Louisiana Senator Bill Cassidy declared himself “undecided”, saying the bill contains provisions “which adversely affect my state, that are peculiar to my state”.
Kellyanne Conway, an adviser to Mr Trump, claimed on Sunday the Senate bill would not actually cut Medicaid, despite projections that it would slash $800bn (£630bn) from the programme.
Maine Senator Susan Collins told ABC’s This Week on Sunday she worries about “what [the bill] means to our most vulnerable citizens”.
The president took to Twitter on Monday to attack his political adversaries.
The Senate healthcare bill was crafted in secret with only a small number of Republicans consulted, and no Democrats were asked their opinion.
An opinion poll last week found that for the first time former President Barack Obama’s 2010 Affordable Care Act – known as Obamacare – is now viewed positively by more than half Americans (51%).