GOP senators aim to have re-worked health bill ready by Friday

"If we don't reach an agreement by Friday, it's probably the end of the sole party effort on health care," Sen. Lindsey Graham said Wednesday.
By Doug G. Ware and Allen Cone  |  June 28, 2017 at 6:16 PM
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June 28 (UPI) -- Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is planning to give a revised version of the Republicans' embattled healthcare plan to independent government analysts no later than Friday, aides and GOP officials said Wednesday.

Senior party officials in the chamber said Wednesday that Senate Republicans have been asked to reach a compromise on the Better Care Reconciliation Act by Friday -- and that a procedural vote on the bill will occur immediately after Congress' July 4 recess.

"We would like to get a solution in place as quickly as possible," Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., told Fox News. "I don't know that there is any particular rush, other than I think the longer this drags out, the harder it becomes."

Congressional aides and lobbyists also said Wednesday that Senate Republicans are working toward an expedited revision.

McConnell is trying to shore up support for the BCRA -- Senate Republicans' answer to previous healthcare reform proposals that have failed -- in the face of another critical analysis from the Congressional Budget Office this week that said the new plan would leave 22 million fewer Americans insured over the next decade than the Affordable Care Act would.

The Senate majority leader and his staff plan to work through the end of the week and will be in frequent communication with the budget office, McConnell spokesman David Popp told the Washington Post.

"If we don't reach an agreement by Friday, it's probably the end of the sole party effort on health care, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., noted in an interview with MSNBC. "If we don't reach [a compromise] by Friday, then the way forward is [the ACA's] collapse."

Previous Republican heath proposals have received similar scores from the CBO -- an independent legislative-level review agency -- which have made some GOP lawmakers hesitant to support the bill.

On Tuesday, McConnell announced that a procedural vote needed to begin attempted passage of the BCRA had been delayed because there isn't enough support to get the law passed. He now wants to get a CBO score for a revised version by the time lawmakers return from recess July 10. That would allow the upper chamber about two weeks to vote on the plan before a longer recess for lawmakers arrives in August.

As it stands, McConnell is several Republican votes short of passing the bill in the Senate. They include moderates who want more coverage protections, and conservatives who want greater savings or regulatory adjustments to strip away the Affordable Care Act.

A senatorial aide told the Post Wednesday that after multiple failed healthcare proposals, Republicans feel they now have a better sense of what everyone wants. It's not yet clear which parts of the proposal revisions might impact.

No Senate Democrats are expected to vote for the BCRA.

In response to the delayed vote, President Donald Trump summoned a group of Republican senators to the White House Tuesday afternoon -- including those who are reluctant to vote for the bill -- for an emergency meeting aimed at assuaging concern.

Earlier Wednesday, Trump blasted news media who reported that he wasn't deeply involved in mounting healthcare reform -- which has been an unsuccessful venture for his administration so far.

"Some of the fake news media likes to say that I am not totally engaged in healthcare. Wrong, I know the subject well & want victory for U.S.," he said in a tweet early Wednesday morning.

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