Senate GOP leader delays health bill vote until after July 4

Republicans are short on votes needed for bill to pass due to five Senators who will not give their support, including Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.
By Susan Morse
03:11 PM
GOP healthcare bill

Republicans are delaying a vote on their healthcare bill until after the July 4 recess, CNN is reporting.

Senate Majority Mitch McConnell had originally said he wanted a vote prior to when legislators broke for July 4.

McConnell has been trying to rally the 50 votes needed and coming up short. Republicans can afford only two defections from an affirmative vote to pass the bill.

Senate Republicans had already put off a procedural vote to start debate on the Better Care Reconciliation Act from Tuesday until Wednesday.

The five Senate Republican hold-outs include three conservatives -- Sens. Ron Johnson, Rand Paul and Mike Lee- who feel the repeal of the Affordable Care Act does not go far enough- and moderates Sens. Susan Collins and Dean Heller who are concerned about cuts, especially to Medicaid.

Collins of Maine tweeted, "I want to work w/ my GOP & Dem colleagues to fix the flaws in ACA. CBO analysis shows Senate bill won't do it. I will vote no on mtp (motion to proceed)."

In another tweet she said, "Senate bill doesn't fix ACA problems for rural Maine. Our hospitals are already struggling. 1 in 5 Mainers are on Medicaid."

Outside of Collins' office in Portland Tuesday, at least 20 protesters held signs in support of the Senator's no vote.

April Humphrey of Mainers for Accountable Leadership, said they were being vocal to encourage Collins to "stay strong."

"We've seen the way she has flip-flopped in the past," Humphrey said, giving as an example the senator's vote on Betsy DeVos for secretary of Education. McConnell would be putting pressure on Republican senators to vote with the party.

The group opposes the Senate bill primarily because it defunds Planned Parenthood and cuts Medicaid funding by changing it from a federal entitlement to a state-based block grant program.

When the Affordable Care Act became available, Humphrey quit her job where she received insurance through her employer, to start her own business. She and her husband pay $800 a month for ACA coverage.

If the Senate bill goes through, she would probably close her business and go back to a job where she could get employer coverage, she said.

Marie Follayttaresmith has a number of preexisting conditions and is covered under employer insurance.

"Anything could happen," she said.

Jon Delogu just returned to Portland, where he grew up, from a teaching job in France. When his son broke his arm snowboarding, he paid nothing in France. Each year, he pays about a month's salary in taxes that goes to health coverage, he estimates.

He wants to remain in Maine, but if the Senate health bill passes, he will go back to France, Delogu said.

"It would be medical healthcare suicide for me," he said.

Local physician Hani Jarawan, MD, is a general internist at Maine Medical Center in Portland. He held a sign that read "For-profit healthcare is killing my patients."

"I think we're long overdue to have a single payer system," Jarawan said.

Twitter: @SusanJMorse