Third GOP senator indicates he might oppose health care bill

Updated: 2017-07-18 10:03

Third GOP senator indicates he might oppose health care bill

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell walks to his office from the Senate floor on Capitol Hill in Washington, US, July 13, 2017. [Photo/Agencies]

In a written statement, McConnell defended the bill's Medicaid savings but did not deny he'd made the remarks to moderates, which were described last Thursday by The Washington Post. McConnell said capping Medicaid spending "with a responsible growth rate that is sustainable for taxpayers is the most important long-term reform in the bill. That is why it has been in each draft we have released."Much of the savings would come from limiting each state's federal Medicaid payments to a fixed amount per beneficiary, which would then grow annually to reflect a measure of inflation. Since its inception in 1965, the program has automatically paid states for a share of their eligible Medicaid expenses, whatever the total amount.

With the vote postponed, foes from left and right were trying to make the measure as politically toxic as possible for wavering GOP senators to support it. But the postponement also gave McConnell and the White House more time to cut the deals they need to rescue the imperiled measure.

"The only way we'll get there is with continued hard work, and that's just what we intend to do," McConnell said, signaling that days of bargaining and persuasion with reluctant colleagues lay ahead.

AARP was continuing TV and radio ads aimed at undecided Republican senators in five states, warning, "Your family's coverage could be taken away altogether." Planned Parenthood, labor and liberal groups were holding rallies outside the Capitol. And the conservative Americans for Prosperity was urging members to pressure GOP senators to strengthen a bill that the group's president, Tim Phillips, says doesn't go "anywhere near far enough" to repeal Obama's health care law.

From the other side, Republican Party Chairwoman Ronna Romney McDaniel said the GOP needs to prove that "we can tackle tough issues." The conservative Faith and Freedom Coalition announced its support for a bill that its chairman, Ralph Reed, called "a giant step forward."On balance, the delay seemed to put McConnell in the tougher spot. In Washington, conventional wisdom dictates that a controversial bill awaiting a vote and under attack from opponents resembles a rotten egg sitting in the sun — the longer it sits, the worse things get.

Underscoring that, the AARP ads targeted five moderate, uncommitted Republicans from states that would be hit hard by the GOP bill's cuts in Medicaid.

They were Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Colorado's Cory Gardner, Rob Portman of Ohio, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Dean Heller of Nevada, perhaps the most vulnerable GOP senator in next year's elections.



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