Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced Saturday night that Senate consideration of legislation repealing and replacing ObamaCare will be delayed while Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) recovers from surgery.
McCain had announced earlier on Saturday that he would not be in the Senate next week, depriving Republicans of a key vote.
Without McCain, Senate Republicans likely would not have had the 50 votes necessary to advance the legislation.
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Congressional Republicans should stop calling their health-care bills a repeal of Obamacare. The House bill is not one — it keeps Obamacare’s regulatory heart — and the Senate bill is even less of one now that it has been amended to keep some of Obamacare’s most economically destructive tax increases. And because the bill is not a real repeal, people will face some combination of higher premiums, co-payments, and deductibles than they otherwise would. Moderate Republicans, who said for years that they wanted to repeal Obamacare but apparently never thought through what repeal would entail, are mostly to blame for these disappointing facts. Republicans have failed to make good on their promises.
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In the coming days, the Congressional Budget Office will release an updated analysis of the Senate bill to repeal and replace Obamacare. The CBO will likely predict lower health insurance coverage rates if the bill becomes law. The American people and Congress should give this prediction little weight in assessing the bill’s merit.
The reason: The CBO’s methodology, which favors mandates over choice and competition, is fundamentally flawed. As a result, its past predictions regarding health-care legislation have not borne much resemblance to reality. Its prediction about the Senate bill is unlikely to fare much better.
When Obamacare passed in 2010, the CBO projected a healthy individual market with 23 million people enrolled in exchange plans by this year. The CBO predicted that by 2017, exchange plans would be profitable and annual premium increases low.
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Politics is a team sport, and Republicans are playing it poorly. They have one more chance in the Senate to repeal and replace ObamaCare—possibly their last hope for a victory.
Democrats are performing like a well-coached team. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer has all 48 members of his caucus on board with saving ObamaCare at all cost. It’s been a successful strategy.
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