Senate Republicans Say They Will Not Vote on Health Bill
“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,” said Senator Chuck Schumer of New York, the Democratic leader.
The decision by Senate Republican leaders may prove to be a milestone in the decades-long fight over health insurance in the United States, suggesting that the Affordable Care Act had gained at least a reprieve and perhaps a measure of political acceptance.
Senator Lamar Alexander, Republican of Tennessee and the chairman of the Senate health committee, and Senator Patty Murray of Washington, the senior Democrat on the panel, have been working on legislation to stabilize insurance markets and hold down premiums in the next couple of years. Both said on Tuesday that they hoped to resume those efforts.
Millions of people who buy insurance on their own face sharp increases in premiums next year, and Trump administration officials have taken a number of steps that have already undermined the operations of the health law.
And health care is sure to be an issue in next year’s midterm elections.
Senator John Thune of South Dakota, a member of the Senate Republican leadership, said the concept behind the Graham-Cassidy bill would help Republicans define their differences with Democrats in the campaign season.
“Single payer, socialism — or federalism, returning power to the states to make decisions,” Mr. Thune said. “I think that’s a great contrast for us, and I think that’s an argument eventually we can win.”
For their part, Democrats have tried to use health care as a bludgeon against the few Senate Republican targets they have next year, mainly Senators Dean Heller of Nevada and Jeff Flake of Arizona.