Senate's McCain opposes Obamacare repeal bill

Alex Brandon | AP | BDN

The latest repeal effort is being advanced by Senators Lindsay Graham of SC and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana.

The changes would have given consumers more freedom, "lifting the regulations from the federal government that are driving up premiums so that premiums can go down and more people can afford health insurance", said Cruz.

Paul said the Graham-Cassidy measure "basically keeps most of the Obamacare spending, nearly all of the spending, and just reshuffles it".

Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., had been leading an effort to draft a bipartisan bill to shore up Obamacare insurance markets; Alexander pulled the plug on that effort Tuesday to clear the way for the Graham-Cassidy bill.

Still, the White House isn't expected to lay off.

Former US President-elect Barack Obama (R) meets with former Republican presidential candidate Arizona Senator John McCain at Obama's transition offices in Chicago on November 17, 2008. It sets up a perpetual food fight over the formula. GOP leaders are also expected to unveil their most detailed blueprint yet of the tax reform plan they hope to pass by the end of the year.

As she has done repeatedly in recent days, Collins was sharply critical of the bill Sunday, saying, "I have a number of very serious reservations about it". "I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried", McCain said in a statement. The Senate's vehicle to pass a health care bill with just 51 votes expires at the end of this month, and it only takes one more Republican "no" vote to stop the legislation from passing altogether.

When Smith asked Cornyn if he would be a no vote on Graham-Cassidy his question received a round of applause from the audience.

The bill has been roundly rejected by influential national groups representing physicians, hospitals and insurers. However, Paul has unexpectedly backed similar repeal efforts in the past, voting in favor of the failed "skinny repeal" proposal back in July. "We're going to go back", he said and added: "You can't quit when you have one or two votes short".

Murkowski has remained uncommitted on the newest bill, saying she's studying its impact on Alaska.

She said she also anxious if the "CBO has been given enough time to thoroughly analyze the bill". "So it may be hard for the CBO to do the kind of in-depth analysis that it usually does, but that's what I would like to see before making a formal decision". She expressed concerns that the measure would result in many people losing health coverage and didn't like a provision letting states make it easier for insurers to raise premiums on people with pre-existing medical conditions.

Cruz spokesman Phil Novack said that Cruz said in Austin, Texas, on Sunday that "right now, they don't have my vote". Two Republicans have so far said they oppose the measure. "They took our edits and then a day later they removed our edits", Cruz said.

Graham told ABC News that he still thinks there is a possibility of winning the repeal vote and is "moving forward" with efforts to try to change the minds of the last Republican holdouts against the repeal legislation. "I'm very excited about it, we've finally found an alternative to ObamaCare".

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