WASHINGTON — Senate Republican leaders released the details of their pared-down version of an Obamacare repeal late Thursday night, shortly before the full Senate was expected to vote on it — even with the outcome still unknown.
And some Republicans still have concerns about its contents and the process.
The bill, named the Health Care Freedom Act, but dubbed the “skinny” repeal, is a smaller version of what Republicans had hoped to pass, but it still contains several important new provisions. Many Republicans say they are holding their nose to vote for it just to advance the process into negotiations with the House of Representatives.
The legislation includes a repeal of the individual mandate to purchase insurance, a repeal of the employer mandate to provide insurance, the defunding of Planned Parenthood, a provision giving states more flexibility to opt out of insurance waivers, and a three-year repeal of the medical device tax. It also increases the amount that people can contribute to Health Savings Accounts.
It’s still unclear if Republicans have the 50 votes they need to pass it. A late-night concession from House Speaker Paul Ryan, promising to enter into negotiations with the Senate to produce a beefed-up version of a health care bill, secured the votes of many Republicans.
But holdouts remain, including Sens. Susan Collins, R-Maine, and John McCain, R-Ariz., both of whom have been critical of the secretive process. The positions of Sens. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., and Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, are unknown.
Republicans can only afford to lose the support of two Republicans in order for it to pass. Vice President Mike Pence is prepared to be the tie-breaking vote.
The vote is expected to take place at some point late into the night or early morning, in what’s been called a “Vote-a-Rama,” where senators will vote consecutively on as many amendments as they want.
The “skinny” repeal is far from Republicans’ campaign promise of also rolling back Medicaid expansion, insurance subsidies, taxes, and insurance regulations.
“It was deeply disappointing to see those six Republicans who voted for repeal in 2015 to turn around and vote against it last night,” said Tim Phillips, head of the Charles and David Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity.