Obamacare repeal fails again

The seven year failure of US Republicans on Tuesday to repeal Obamacare continued as a bitter defeat thereby raising question marks on their capability to enact President Donald Trump's agenda. After failing to gather required votes for repealing Obamacare, the party decided to not put the vote into motion. While the bill's sponsors refused to give up, their task is tougher now as special rules will expire on Sunday that allowed them to pass healthcare legislation without Democratic support. Senator Ron Johnson, a co-sponsor of the measure with Senators Bill Cassidy, Lindsey Graham and Dean Heller blamed it as a shortage of time.

Until now, Republicans have failed repeatedly on their promise to roll back former Democratic President Barack Obama's signature domestic accomplishment. Still awaiting a major domestic policy success in Congress this year, their chances to retain control of the Senate and House of Representatives in the November 2018 congressional election is getting tougher. Considering Obamacare as a costly government overreach, both Trump and Republicans have repeatedly pledged to scrap it while Democrats have fiercely defended it as providing health insurance to millions.

Senate Republicans had failed in July as well and again now in their bill which would have given states bigger control over the billions of funds which the federal government spends annually on health care. This time they also faced objections from right and center members who opposed the bill for various reasons. Senator Susan Collins felt it undermined the Medicaid program for the poor and weakened consumer protections. Senator Rand Paul felt it left a number of Obamacare regulations in it and spending programs in place.

Democrats felt it was the right time for Republicans to work with them and try to fix the original bill's shortcomings. Republican Senator Lamar Alexander indicated of resuming talks with Democratic Senator Patty Murray. Shares of healthcare providers rose slightly. The latest bill faces opposition from many bodies including the insurance industry, hospitals, medical advocacy groups, AARP advocacy group for the elderly and consumer activists groups.

On Tuesday, Trump expressed disappointment in all those Republicans who did not support the bill but stated of not losing hope yet and that he would eventually succeed. Republicans hold a slim 52-48 majority in the Senate. With their special rules expiring Sunday, they now need 60 votes in the 100 seat chamber to advance most legislation. CBS poll on Monday revealed 50 percent of Americans disapproving the new bill while 20 percent approving. Senate Republican John Thune stated that the party would not try the vote for Obamacare repeal until they are confident of having sufficient votes and hence would now focus on overhauling the US tax code which is again a tough task that might face stiff resistance. Republican Senator Ben Sasse admitted of Republicans doing a bad job on Obamacare.

Six protestors mimicked a 'die-in' on the floor of a Senate office building to show the meaning of the bill getting passed. The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office stated that over a million people would face high-cost medical events if the latest Republican bill became a law. According to the CBO, the federal spending on Medicaid may cut by about $1 trillion from 2017 to 2026 thereby making millions lose its coverage, predominantly from the repeal of the federal funding for Obamacare's Medicaid expansion.

January 16, 2022 - 17:30
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