Yesterday afternoon Senate Republicans announced that the Graham-Cassidy bill, which would repeal the Affordable Care Act and make sweeping cuts to Medicaid, would not be brought up for a vote. Senators John McCain, Susan Collins, and Rand Paul all oppose the bill, so it lacks the fifty votes to pass the Senate.
This is the fourth attempt to repeal the Affordable Care Act, all the attempts have failed, and they have all run into similar obstacles. All Democrats in Congress oppose any bill that will destroy one of Obama's greatest achievements and cause millions of Americans to lose their health insurance. And several Senate Republicans are concerned about making such a huge change to the American healthcare system, and how repeal would harm their constituents. Despite all this, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has repeatedly worked to get repeal through Congress, possibly because he is concerned about having to face voters in the 2018 elections without have fulfilled his campaign promise to repeal the ACA.
The two authors of the bill, Senator Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy, are pointing fingers elsewhere and say their repeal attempt simply didn't have enough time. But other Republicans are more critical. They point to the multiple drafts of the bill, the incomplete and misleading information contained in those drafts, the attempts to sway Senators by providing more money for their states but leaving the rest of the bill unchanged, and the rushed, slapped-together process. Only a single hearing was held on the bill, and Senators McCain and Murkowski criticized the drafting process, saying it was hasty, poorly done, and poorly thought out.
Appetite for ACA repeal is also fading. At a Republican meeting yesterday, Senators focused more on tax reform then health care; they will likely pivot to that issue.
The failure of efforts to repeal the ACA is welcome, and as we have already noted, the stage is now set for Congress to tackle drug prices. We hope that members are up to the challenge.