A quartet of conservative Republican senators have greeted the new GOP healthcare replacement plan with a resounding thumbs down. In an opposition alliance reminiscent of what the House Freedom Caucus staged months ago, Sens. Rand Paul, Mike Lee, Ron Johnson, and Ted Cruz said Thursday that they could not support the Senate’s Obamacare “fix” as it currently stood. The plan, which was finally released for public view last week, does not do enough to repeal the worst of the problems with the Affordable Care Act, said the senators.
“Currently, for a variety of reasons, we are not ready to vote for this bill, but we are open to negotiation and obtaining more information before it is brought to the floor,” the four Republicans said in a joint statement. “There are provisions in this draft that represent an improvement to our current health care system but it does not appear this draft, as written, will accomplish the most important promise that we made to Americans: to repeal ObamaCare and lower their health care costs.”
While the four Republicans were adamant about the state of the current bill – dubbed the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 – they all said they were eager to improve the legislation and pass it with further negotiations.
“I didn’t run on ObamaCare-Lite,” said Paul in comments to reporters. “I think we can do better than this. My hope is not to defeat the bill, but to make the bill better. Now the discussions begin. I think it could take longer than a week.”
Sen. Cruz echoed those sentiments in his own comments.
“I have been clear from day one that I want to get to yes,” Cruz said. “Nobody has fought harder against Obamacare in the Senate than I have, but we have to actually have legislation that fixes the underlying problem.”
Cruz said that the current version of the bill doesn’t do “nearly enough” to repeal the most damaging aspects of the Affordable Care Act and that it would be a “disaster politically” if Republicans were to pass it in its current form.
The problem of course – and this is the same problem they had to contend with in the House – is that to get these four on board with the plan, Mitch McConnell and Company will likely have to make changes that will imperil the support of moderate Republicans like Susan Collins of Maine. You have some in the Senate who want nothing less than full repeal and others who, quite frankly, would seemingly be happy just keeping the current Obamacare model in place with a few choice adjustments.
Can Republicans live up to their collective promise to repeal and replace this terrible legislation?
We shall see.