How can Republicans vote for the new health care bill if they opposed the old one?


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What we’re watching

Today: The new Senate health care bill is basically the old one.

More: So, will Republicans who opposed the first bill come to support this one?

Even more: The Women’s March is leading a protest Friday against the NRA.

Yes, more: Trump claimed his budget will spur economic growth. The CBO says otherwise.

Breaking: A former Soviet counter intellgience officer was in the meeting between Donald Trump Jr. and a Russian lawyer.

Trump’s agenda today: Traveling in Paris.

How can Republicans concerned about the old health care bill support the new one?

Republicans are in a bind.

On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced a new health care bill with more money for fighting opioid abuse and subsidizing insurance premiums.

But the legislation preserves deep cuts to Medicaid that concerned many Republicans. It also includes an amendment from Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) that would let health insurance companies sell cheap plans that offer little coverage. Under some insurance plans, pre-existing condition coverage could be jeopardized.

So if GOP senators go back and read their statements on the first bill two weeks ago, they should find it easy to oppose the current legislation. A few examples:

Ohio Sen. Rob Portman on June 27: “I continue to have real concerns about the Medicaid policies in this bill, especially those that impact drug treatment at a time when Ohio is facing an opioid epidemic.” Portman is undecided on the new bill, which would still cut Medicaid dollars for low-income Americans, addiction treatment and hospitals that treat opioid addicts.

Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy on June 22: “If your loved one gets sick will they have adequate coverage, as best I can tell [they will.]” Cassidy is undecided on the new bill, which does not pass the “Jimmy Kimmel test” to maintain coverage for pre-existing conditions. The bill would let some health insurers not cover people who are sick while seeking insurance.

Sen. Dean Heller on June 23: “I cannot support a piece of legislation that takes away the insurance from tens of thousands of Nevadans.” Heller is undecided on the new bill, which maintains the Medicaid cuts that would lead to people in his state losing insurance.

These are only a few examples of Republicans articulating why they opposed the first Senate health care bill, pointing out troubling provisions that are still in the new legislation. The question is whether McConnell will be able to convince the skeptics his revision is the best he can do — and better than doing nothing.

Only three GOP senators can oppose the health care bill before it fails. Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Rand Paul (R-Ky.) have said they will not vote to advance the bill to debate next week. Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) expressed deep concern with the latest legislation and said Thursday he will file amendments to soften the Medicaid cuts.

A notable bone in the new version: Alaska would have lost more than $3 billion in Medicaid under the first Senate bill. The new Senate bill has a revision that reverses much of those cuts — but only for Alaska.

The president weighs in. Trump fired off a series of tweets from Paris pushing Republican senators to pass the health care bill.

Zinger: Members of Congress would keep coverage of more health benefits in their insurance than would be available on the individual market.

Watch for major movement on Monday after the release of the latest CBO score.

Today’s question: Can Republican senators justify voting for the new health care bill if they were opposed to the old one? Email your thoughts to

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