After seven years of Republican promises and a lot of hot air emanating from Donald Trump, the Republican attempt to gut Obamacare was defeated on the Senate floor by a vote of 51-49.
The so-called “skinny repeal,” would have retroactively repealed the penalty for those who did not comply with the mandate to purchase insurance, repealed a medical device tax until 2020, and repealed for 8 years the penalty on certain employers who do not provide health insurance for employees. The Congressional Budget Office determined that, had the bill passed, it would have resulted in the loss of coverage for 15 million Americans by 2018. The bill was defeated when Senators John McCain, Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski joined Democrats in voting no.
After months of secrecy and several failed attempts to carry out the promises made since Obamacare became the law of the land, Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell grudgingly acknowledged the failure. “This is clearly a disappointing moment. The American people are going to regret that we couldn’t find a better way forward.”
It was a stinging defeat for Donald Trump, who had promised that Americans would have “terrific” healthcare that would be “cheaper” and “cover everyone.” Over six months into his presidency, not one major piece of legislation has been passed.
In typical fashion, he took to Twitter to register his displeasure, tweeting “3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down. As I said from the beginning, let Obamacare implode, then deal. Watch!”
The reaction to Trump’s tweet was, as expected, gleeful in the variety of smackdowns, but this one was the best – at least in my humble opinion.
Although it looks like the Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare is dead, the insurance industry is still wracked with uncertainty, fearing that Trump may cut off billions of dollars in payments to help cover the out of pocket costs for low income Americans. Some insurers have pulled out of markets, while others are increasing premiums by double digits for 2018.
Some Republicans, along with Democrats, see this as an opportunity to work together to fix the parts of Obamacare that have proved problematic.
Speaking to reporters after the vote, Senator Murkowski said, “We now have an opportunity to regroup and pull things together through an open and full committee process, bipartisan participation.”
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