Don’t count out the Senate Republicans' health care bill. Here’s how it could still pass.
A vote on the Senate Republican health care plan may have been postponed until after the July 4 recess, as Republicans currently lack the votes from within their own party to advance the bill — but that doesn't mean the bill is dead.
Senate leaders, including Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) came out to say that Republicans are still working to garner enough support to pass the bill.
"We are still working toward getting at least 50 people in a comfortable place," McConnell said at a Tuesday afternoon news conference on Capitol Hill.
To be sure, McConnell has a much narrower path to securing the votes needed to pass a health care bill than House Speaker Paul Ryan did. Senate Republicans can afford to lose just two senators in this vote, and McConnell has to ensure that whatever changes are made keep both the conservative and moderate members of his party onboard.
Conservative Republicans — such as Senators Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Rand Paul of Kentucky and Mike Lee of Utah — think the bill doesn't go far enough in repealing the Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare.
Paul, who met with President Donald Trump on Tuesday before the vote was postponed, said in a tweet that the bill is "not real repeal" and "needs major improvement."
Johnson said he wants to take out "pre-existing-conditions rules" that he argued "drive up the cost of insurance for everyone." Instead, Johnson suggested he wants states to set up high-risk pools, similar to the one Wisconsin had before the ACA went into effect.
Making those changes, however, alienate moderate senators such as Senators Susan Collins of Maine, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Dean Heller of Nevada and Rob Portman of Ohio.
However, it's possible McConnell can woo those moderates by removing the cuts to Planned Parenthood from the bill — something Murkowski has voiced opposition to. McConnell could also offer more funding for opioid treatment that could get someone like Portman onboard, given his home state's opioid epidemic.
Still, while McConnell has little room for error in order to get the bill through, many say never to count McConnell out.
“If there’s one member of Congress that I believe has the ability to bring us together on a health care bill, it’s Mitch McConnell,” Rep. James Comer (R-Ky.) told the Associated Press. “If he can’t do it, then it cannot be done.”