Sep 13, 2017, 2:30 PM ET

Republicans make last-minute pitch for Obamacare repeal plan

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It's a day of dueling health care plans on Capitol Hill. Sen. Lindsey Graham, who's leading the Republicans' last-minute effort to repeal and replace the 2010 Affordable Care Act, came out swinging against Sen. Bernie Sanders' proposal for what he calls "Medicare for all."

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"If you want a single health payer system, this is your worst nightmare," Graham said. "Bernie, this ends your dream of a single-payer health care system for America."

Graham, R-S.C., was joined by Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La.; Sen. Dean Heller, R-Nev.; Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis.; and former Sen. Rick Santorum.

The Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson plan proposes to send federal money spent on the Affordable Care Act to states in the form of block grants — an idea Santorum pitched to Graham while they were in a barbershop. Their plan would eliminate the medical device tax, the employer mandate and the individual mandate.

The clock is ticking for Congress to pass any repeal or replacement bill in the Senate, which requires a minimum of just 50 votes under the process known as reconciliation. After Sept. 30, legislation will need at least 60 senators to sign on.

So far, Graham's plan has been met by lukewarm reactions from conservatives who seem exhausted by repeal and replace efforts and those who don't think its proposed changes go far enough.

Some GOP senators have already seemed to move on, including the chairman of the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee, Lamar Alexander, who is working on a bipartisan plan for the individual insurance market. Today Heritage Action for America released a statement saying that from what it has seen of the plan, the Graham bill "would make some improvements over the status quo, but it would not actually deliver on the Republicans' seven-year campaign promise to repeal and replace Obamacare."

"For those Republicans who say this isn't quite good enough, it doesn't do enough of a repeal, this is our last shot," Johnson said. "Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson is a vast improvement."

Kellyanne Conway said on Fox News last week that President Donald Trump would be willing to sign the bill. Today, Graham made a direct plea to Trump for his support.

"Mr. President, help us," said Graham. "Pick up the phone. Call some governors ... Mr. President, help us, because we're trying to help you."

After the press conference, Trump released a statement that praised the effort, he but stopped short of offering support.

"I applaud the Senate for continuing to work toward a solution to relieve the disastrous Obamacare burden on the American people. My administration has consistently worked to enact legislation that repeals and replaces Obamacare and that can pass the Senate and make it to my desk," he said. "As I have continued to say, inaction is not an option, and I sincerely hope that Sens. Graham and Cassidy have found a way to address the Obamacare crisis."

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  • Tony Radcliffe-Hung

    After spending 9 years now doing everything they can to cause Obamacare to fail, from GOP governors to GOP representatives--all in service of rich special interests (many in the insurance business), they plan now to try to spin their way through on a plan that is the same basic nonsense as before...a huge tax cut to the rich and hot air for everyday Americans who will have LESS AFFORDABLE health care if their plan is enacted, even worse than under Obamacare for most people.

    What they should be doing is meeting in earnest with Democrats to write bipartisan legislation on single-payer so they can actually keep some campaign promises to make it all better for us. But they won't.

    And why won't they? Insurance companies...the middle men that provide us with ZERO actual healthcare and yet cause it to be exponentially more expensive to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars...will invest millions to billions to fear-monger and deceive....using the GOP to get their message out.

    So tired of this nonsense in our government. THAT is the swamp and the GOP nor Trump are doing anything to fix it. Rather they double down on it and lie to your faces! I'm so tired of you fools of who keep believing them!

  • Evan German

    To the Senators: This is your last chance! Start thinking about what your constituents want and need NOW and stop worrying about your artificial deadlines. Your constituents want stability in health care and decreased costs and improved services especially for women's health services. All of those can be done with relatively minor fixes to the ACA instead of ripping health care apart and dropping 20 million citizens' coverage.

  • wiseone

    Republican's began intimidating insurers immediately when Obama care became law. This indecent action was the primary reason rates for the middle class could not be reduced by attrition as planned by the Democrats. Any failures of Obama care can be attributed to Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell. Remember their plan in 2008 was to work against any legislative Obama pursued. Kentucky has been labeled as the poorest State in the Union for the last twenty-five years, and Mitch has been there as a Senator the entire time. Now the State has the largest opioid problem with a record number of OD deaths. Mitch and the other congressman (Rand Paul) have completely ignored the needs of the middle class and poor in their own State...............pathetic.

  • pshep

    10 years from now these idiots will be on thier death beds, still trying to "repeal and replace" Obamacare

  • SaveRMiddle

    As before, any Republican garbage healthcare plan will suffice when the only true goal is Repeal.

  • autumntyme

    Meanwhile, the annual census has been released

    Census Bureau: Median Incomes Rose And Poverty Levels Fell In 2016 - npr

    New figures released by the Census Bureau Tuesday show median household income in 2016 was $59,039 — more than 3 percent higher than in 2015.

    And because last year also saw near record income growth, "these are two consecutive years of strong income gains, that's the highest median income ever recorded"
    ____________________________________________________

    This is what Trump voters turned their back on, and this is what they can now have Trump try to take credit for....for as long as he passes no actual policy to destroy it.

  • SearingTruth

    Single payer is the only just and affordable solution fellow citizens. Nothing will ever change that.

    But since that doesn't seem presently possible the best that can be done is shoring up the disastrous ACA, as it's at least better than the nothing we had before.

    But temporary solutions are all that's possible until single payer is implemented.

    Because until then the Health Destruction Industry, euphemistically referred to as the Health Insurance Industry, will continue to demand more and more money simply not to kill us.
    ST

    "Humanity, the currency of life."
    SearingTruth

  • xtch3

    Good grief, People. Move it forward!

  • Rick

    My recommendation - fix the problems Obamacare may have and wind up with a better plan. There's really no good reason to start from scratch like the republicans want to do.

  • mrphilbert

    To people that are trying to justify going back to our old system of "if you can afford it" by bashing Canada's system.
    I just got back from Canada. Not one single person I asked said they would trade their medical system for ours. Replies varied from "no way" to "you've got to be $##^ing kidding me". They like their system just fine thank you. Whether you think it's perfect or not is completely irrelevant as they like their system much, much better than ours.

  • ohyes2011

    Stuck in stupidity. The majority of Americans want ACA strengthened or changed to single payer. But the republicans keep spinning their wheels in the base.

  • Richard Cardo

    Who's keeping score? 52? 53? Maybe it should be done in Roman numerals now.

  • Roger

    The GOP is trapped by their own intransigent extremism. They can't pass laws because the far right refuses to go with anything but a pure profit pro business pro corporation stance.

    Trump with all his flaws may be starting to really get this. He has no moral code or political ideology, he just wants to claim victory. He might figure out that a combination of republican centrists and Democratic will do that