New health-care plan stumbles under opposition from governors – Washington Post
The collective criticism from 10 governors arrived as Vice President Pence and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tried to rally support for the bill, which is sponsored by GOP Sens. Bill Cassidy (La.), Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.), Dean Heller (Nev.) and Ron Johnson (Wis.).
But it was unclear whether the opposition would ultimately derail the attempt, as key Republican senators including Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said they had yet to make up their minds.
“We ask you not to consider the Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson amendment and renew support for bipartisan efforts to make health care more available and affordable for all Americans,” the governors said in their letter.
They added that they prefer a bipartisan push to stabilize the insurance marketplaces that Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) had been negotiating before talks stalled on Tuesday evening.
The governors who signed the bill are particularly notable, since some are from states represented by Republican senators who are weighing whether to back the bill. Among them: Alaska Gov. Bill Walker (I), who holds some sway over Murkowski, a potentially decisive vote who opposed a previous Republican effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
Nevertheless, Murkowski said Tuesday afternoon that she was still weighing her options and explained how her position on the bill might ultimately differ from her opposition to an earlier repeal bill that failed dramatically in July.
“If it can be shown that Alaska is not going to be disadvantaged, you gain additional flexibility. Then I can go back to Alaskans, and I can say, ‘Okay, let’s walk through this together.’ That’s where it could be different,” she said.
But Murkowski, who has been in close touch with Walker, said she did not yet have the data to make such a determination.
Alaska’s other Republican senator, Dan Sullivan, said he was still mulling whether to support the bill.
On Tuesday, Pence traveled from New York, where he was attending the annual U.N. General Assembly, to Washington with Graham in a sign of the White House’s support for the proposal.
“My message today is I want to make sure that members of the Senate know the president and our entire administration supports Graham-Cassidy,” Pence told reporters on the flight down. “We think the American people need this.”
Graham added that President Trump called him at 10:30 p.m. Monday.
“He says, ‘If we can pull this off, it’ll be a real accomplishment for the country,’ ” he recalled.
Pence attended the weekly Senate Republican policy luncheon, where he said the current health-care system is collapsing and the bill fulfills key GOP promises to return control to states and rein in federal entitlement programs, according to several GOP senators.
Afterward, McConnell declined to ensure a vote on the bill but said his team is working to secure sufficient support.
“We’re in the process of discussing all of this. Everybody knows that the opportunity expires at the end of the month,” said McConnell, referring to the limited window Republicans have to take advantage of a procedural tactic to pass a broad health-care bill without any Democratic support.
The current bill would give states control over billions in federal health-care spending and enact deep cuts to Medicaid. The Medicaid cuts are a major source of concern to the governors, both in terms of imposing a per capita cap on what states would receive as well as putting restrictions on how they could spend any federal aid on their expanded Medicaid populations.