The ongoing mess surrounding the AHCA is beginning to play a big like “Groundhog’s Day”; A new draft of the bill is released, Republicans pretend to love it, the CBO score on the draft is released, a mutiny ensues, and it’s back to the drawing board again.
On Monday, the CBO score for the latest version of the AHCA, released just last Thursday, was announced. In it, the Congressional Budget Office discovered that 22 million people would lose coverage and that $722 billion would be cut from Medicaid.
This latest estimate shows that the latest draft of the AHCA is just as toxic, if not more so, than the previous versions. So toxic in fact, that some Republicans have publicly condemned it.
One of these is maybe unsurprising – Senator Rand Paul. The near-libertarian is the most likely of the Republican Senate to break the ranks, and in this case, he is referring to the latest draft as a “terrible bill.”
Focusing on 2018 – an important feature the rest of the Republican party is pretending doesn’t exist – Paul said that he knew passing a bad bill would be bad for the future success of the party.
“It’s worse to pass a bad bill than to pass no bill. And 2018 is going to roll around and people are going to ask themselves, ‘Are my premiums lower?’ and they’re going to find out, ‘You know what, my premiums still went up 25 percent.’”
Paul defied Republican leadership by saying that he would most likely oppose the bill, especially if promises were not made to improve the bill upon passage.
Senator Paul aside, two Republicans have already said that they will not support the AHCA if brought to a vote – Senator Susan Collins of Maine, and Senator Dean Heller of Nevada.
Mitch McConnell can stand to lose both Collins’ and Heller’s votes, but not a single vote more. That means that Senator Paul’s vote cannot be left up to chance. On that front, Paul is expected to personally meet with President Trump this evening, no doubt to be cajoled or threatened into submission.
Other Republicans went on-record as being uneasy supporting the bill after the CBO score. Even Senator Ted Cruz criticized the bill’s inability to lower premiums. When asked if that meant he would not support it, Cruz remained silent.
Republicans had hoped to hold a vote on the latest version of the AHCA to match the previously-passed bill in the House, but without a sure majority, McConnell will likely put the vote off until after the Senate’s July recess.
As Republicans continue to search for a healthcare alternative to the ACA, it appears they are getting further from a solution, rather than closer to one. Maybe the end result truly could be what Sean Spicer threatened on Monday – single payer for all!