Resistance Rallies as So-Called 'Moderate' GOP Senators Decide on Healthcare

Dozens gathered outside Sen. Ted Cruz's office this week to protest the newest version of the Senate healthcare bill. (Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty)

Resistance Rallies as So-Called 'Moderate' GOP Senators Decide on Healthcare

One Republican vote is needed to keep 22 million Americans from losing health coverage

The Trump Resistance is putting pressure on several so-called moderate Republican lawmakers who could join Senators Susan Collins of Maine and Rand Paul of Kentucky in refusing to back the latest version of the party's healthcare bill.

Collins said Thursday that she objected to the bill on the same grounds as she had the earlier incarnation--the deep cuts to Medicaid that would leave 15 million of the most vulnerable Americans uninsured over the next decade. According to a Buzzfeed report, she noted that "only thing that could change [her no vote] is if the CBO's analysis...indicates that there would be far fewer changes in Medicaid than I believe."

Paul stated his objection as well, citing the bill's stabilization funds that would be paid to insurance companies over the next several years to cover high-cost patients, and saying the bill retains too much of the provisions in the Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare.

For its part, the Trump Resistance isn't falling into complacency. The national group Indivisible is calling on voters in states with so-called moderate Republican senators to put pressure on their lawmakers. The group has called for sit-ins at Senate offices on Tuesday, July 18, when Republicans could hold their first procedural vote on the bill. Eighty protesters were also arrested on Capitol Hill on Thursday, where they demanded "no" votes from senators.

The current version of the healthcare bill includes a provision allowing subsidies used to buy only catastrophic care (far less coverage than Obamacare subsidies would buy); allows states to request waivers to opt out of requiring benefits like mental health coverage; and in an amendment included by Sen. Ted Cruz, allows insurers offering Obamacare plans to also provide cheap policies that would offer very basic coverage. Critics say this key provision would cause healthcare costs for Americans with "pre-existing conditions" to skyrocket.

GOP senators who are considered possible "no" votes include Dean Heller of Nevada, Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, John Hoeven of North Dakota, Rob Portman of Ohio, and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia.

While these senators have spoken out against aspects of the bill, like Medicaid cuts, in theory, none of them has said whether they'll be the third senator to vote "no," keeping the legislation from passing.

Some mainstream media outlets have declared the bill nearly dead because only one more vote against it is needed. But with the Republican leadership ready to offer extra funds for states like Ohio and West Virginia that may need it for low-income residents and the opioid crisis, others are concerned that the so-called moderate senators who are considered possible holdouts, will find enough positives in the bill to vote for it.

Meanwhile, public opinion of the Senate healthcare plan has shifted. In a new Kaiser poll on Friday, 61 percent of Americans had an unfavorable view of Republican efforts to repeal and replace Obamacare--up from 55 percent in June.

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