WASHINGTON (CBSMiami) — Senate Republicans still have ways to go after unveiling their secret health care bill Thursday in an attempt to repeal and replace the existing Affordable Care Act.
Four GOP Senators are not yet willing to support it. Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul believes it resembles the existing program too much and isn’t a true repeal.
“This bill keeps Obamacare,” he told the media after the measure was posted.
Three others aren’t ready to vote, either. Paul, along with Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Sen. Ron Johnson (R-WI), and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), released a statement Thursday afternoon, saying they are, however, willing to continue negotiations before the bill goes to the floor.
Senate Majority Mitch McConnell (R-KY) wants to vote on the legislation before July 4, when lawmakers leave for the holiday.
“Obamacare isn’t working,” McConnell said on the floor. “By nearly any measure, it has failed, and no amount of 11th-hour, reality-denying or buck-passing by Democrats is going to change the fact that more Americans are going to get hurt unless we do something.”
Democrats were left out of the behind-closed-doors decision-making.
“Now we know why they tried to keep this secret,” said Sen. Bill Nelson (D-FL). “This bill is just as bad as the House bill, taking coverage away from millions of people and making huge cuts to Medicaid. If that weren’t enough, it also allows insurance companies to hike rates for older Americans.”
Opponents argue that the bill’s creation should extend beyond the aisle.
“Fixing our nation’s health care system shouldn’t be a partisan issue,” Sen. Nelson added. “We should be working together, not plotting behind closed doors to make it worse.”
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) called the bill “meaner.” Last week, President Donald Trump reportedly called the bill “mean” in a private meeting with Senate Republicans.
The bill could afford to lose two non-supporters but not four. Republicans need a simple majority to pass it, rather than a supermajority since they’re using the budget reconciliation process. If all four GOP Senators deny support, and as expected, all Democrats vote ‘no’, the measure would fall flat.