Susan Collins, Voicing Doubt on Health Bill, Leaves It Close to Collapse

Alex Brandon | AP | BDN

The Graham-Cassidy bill now being considered in the Senate threatens to eliminate the Medicaid expansion.

Maine Sen. Susan Collins said on CNN's "State of the Union" Sunday that it would be "very hard for me to envision a scenario" where she would vote for the Republicans' latest plan, but added she wanted to wait for a Congressional Budget Office assessment of the bill before rendering a final decision. "He told me he would get me more numbers on the impact on the state of Maine and on the nation". McCain, a close friend of Graham, said he could not support it without knowing how much it would cost, its effect on insurance premiums, and how many people would be affected.

That leaves Sen. Lisa Murkowski, a Republican from Alaska who voted against the last effort, as a key question mark. "I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried".

President Trump, in a Saturday morning tweetstorm, blasted Arizona Sen.

Nearly immediately after McCain's announcement, Graham, one of McCain's best friends reaffirmed their friendship as "not based on how he votes but respect for how he's lived his life and the person he is".

Unless the White House and party leaders can persuade at least one of the three to come around, three GOP "no" votes will be enough to kill the legislation because all Senate Democrats oppose it. McCain's opposition will likely sink the latest Republican effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. States that expanded Medicaid under Obamacare would be hardest hit by spending cuts, losing $180 billion from 2020 to 2026, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation.

That's despite the fact the bill would loosen the rules under the Obama health law - by giving states waivers that would let insurers charge more, or tailor benefits to discourage people with costly conditions from signing up. Rand Paul, R-Ky., has said he'll oppose the bill because it doesn't abolish enough of Obama's 2010 law. Sen. The bill seeks to allow the individual states to exercise more flexibility in how they handle federal health insurance by allotting block grants to those states. "This is a bad idea, not repealed. We put a cap on Obamacare growth".

Adding further uncertainty, Cruz raised the prospect of being another holdout if certain changes aren't made to the bill.

"Right now, they don't have my vote, and I don't think they have Mike Lee's vote either", the Texas senator said at the Texas Tribune festival in Austin.

Cruz said that was a "bogus" deadline. Asked Sunday whether McConnell agrees with Short's timeline, McConnell spokesman Don Stewart said McConnell had not announced a vote schedule.

Graham's comments come as he and Senate Republican leadership scramble to get Republican votes for the GOP's latest repeal and replace legislation, the Graham-Cassidy bill.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said last week in a statement that it was his "intention" to consider Graham-Cassidy next week, but without the votes, it's unclear that Republican leaders would actually bring the bill to the floor. "I'm very excited about it".

"Without a full CBO score, which won't be available by the end of the month, we won't have reliable answers to any of those questions", said McCain.

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