On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) threatened the members of his own party in the Senate, warning that if they didn’t pass the Senate plan to rewrite the Affordable Care Act, the Senate would have to pass a watered-down version of the bill with Democratic support.
McConnell said, “If my side is unable to agree on an adequate replacement, then some kind of action with regard to the private health insurance market must occur. No action is not an alternative. We’ve got the insurance markets imploding all over the country, including in this state.”
McConnell had famously pledged in 2014 to eviscerate Obamacare “root and branch,” but last week he intimated that he might work with Democrats. He has suggested strengthening insurance exchanges created under the ACA, a position contrary to Republican talking points.
Sen. Patrick J. Toomey (R-Pa.) didn’t make anything rosier for McConnell when he said Wednesday, “We’re still several weeks away from a vote, I think.” He was echoed by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), who said Thursday, “If we cannot bring the conference together and agree on repeal legislation, then I think President Trump’s absolutely right that we should pass a clean repeal.” He had told KTSA radio in San Antonio, “I don’t know if we get it done or not… It is precarious.”
Sen. Jerry Moran, (R-KS), added, “There are people who tell me they are better off” under Obama’s law, “and I believe them.”
True to form, on Thursday Senate Minority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.) called McConnell’s statement “encouraging” and said his caucus is “eager to work with Republicans to stabilize the markets and improve the law. At the top of the list should be ensuring cost-sharing payments are permanent, which will protect health care for millions.”