Senate Votes Again On Health Care: Is There an End Game?

Capitol Building with Reflection

Late Tuesday, the Senate voted by a narrow margin (a 51-50 vote that required a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence) to debate health care reform. Just seven hours later, as expected, the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) failed on a 43-57 vote. Nine Republican senators voted “no” on the BCRA, as did all Democrats. The Republicans were Susan Collins of Maine, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Dean Heller of Nevada, Bob Corker of Tennessee, Jerry Moran of Kansas, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Mike Lee of Utah.

This version of BCRA included the amendments to add $100 billion of stability funding and let insurers sell bare-bones policies so long as they still sell ACA-compliant policies.

Today, the Senate reconvened to vote on a “repeal-only” bill that would eliminate the Affordable Care Act’s individual and employer mandate penalties, and remove various taxes and fees on health insurance, prescription drugs, medical devices, and investment income. If the “repeal-only” bill does not pass, Republicans may pursue a “skinny repeal” that would eliminate the ACA’s medical device tax and its individual and employer mandates. The Republicans’ end game now appears to be to pass a bill that can serve as the basis for negotiations with the House on a revised “repeal and replace” bill.

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