Senate GOP to snub House Obamacare repeal bill and write its own – Health Care News

on May5

4 May 2017 | 7:39 pm

(Bloomberg)—Several key Senate Republicans said they will set aside the narrowly passed House health-care bill and write their own version instead, a sign of how difficult it will be to deliver on seven years of promises to repeal Obamacare.

Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, who chairs the Senate health committee, and Roy Blunt of Missouri, a member of GOP leadership, both described the plan, even as the House was celebrating passing its repeal after weeks of back and forth. The decision will likely delay even further the prospect of any repeal bill reaching President Donald Trump’s desk.

Related: Roskam, Kinzinger, Hultgren made the difference in Obamacare repeal

Hospital stocks dipped on the House vote, but quickly bounced back on the news the Senate would start over with its own version, with the BI North America Hospitals Index up 0.9 percent at 2:39 p.m. Hospitals fear the winding-down of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion will leave them with more customers who can’t afford to pay.

Trump celebrated the House vote with a news conference at the White House, standing alongside dozens of Republican lawmakers.

“This has really brought the Republican Party together,” he said.

But in the wake of the House’s razor-thin 217-213 vote, the Senate made clear it was going in a different direction. Alaska’s Lisa Murkowski, who has been very critical of the House bill, said Thursday she hopes they start with “a clean slate” in the Senate.

To get some kind of bill through his chamber, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will need to unite moderate and conservative wings of the party that want to pull the measure in entirely different directions. The GOP controls the chamber 52-48, meaning he can lose no more than two Republicans and still pass it, given the united Democratic opposition.

The added sweeteners that helped win crucial GOP support to get the House bill through that chamber had made it even more difficult to get it through the Senate. One of the many obstacles with the House version is that it could run afoul of budget strictures governing the procedure under which the bill is being handled.

‘MANAGE EXPECTATIONS’

Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch of Utah said Republicans’ goal will be to craft a measure that can get 51 votes.

“Coupled with the constraints imposed by the budget reconciliation process, we must manage expectations and remain focused on the art of the doable as we move forward,” he said in a statement after the House vote Thursday.

In short, without changes, the House bill arrives in the Senate well short of the 50 votes, plus a tie-breaking vote by Vice President Mike Pence, that will be needed to pass.

“We are not under any deadlines, so we are going to take our time,” No. 2 Senate Republican John Cornyn of Texas said. “When we have 51 senators we will vote but not until then.”



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