After years a failing healthcare system, the Senate has finally passed a measure to take the first step forward on dismantling President Barack Obama’s health care law.
The nearly party-line 51-48 vote early Thursday came on a nonbinding Republican-backed budget measure that eases the way for action on subsequent repeal legislation as soon as next month.
“We must act quickly to bring relief to the American people,” said Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.
The House is slated to vote on the measure on Friday, though some Republicans there have misgivings about setting the repeal effort in motion without a better idea of the replacement plan.
Trump oozed confidence at a news conference on Wednesday, promising his incoming administration would soon reveal a plan to both repeal so-called Obamacare and replace it with legislation to “get health care taken care of in this country.”
“We’re going to do repeal and replace, very complicated stuff,” Trump told reporters, adding that both elements would pass virtually at the same time.
Passage of Thursday’s measure would permit follow-up legislation to escape the threat of a filibuster by Senate Democrats. Republicans are not close to agreement among themselves on what any “Obamacare” replacement would look like, however.
Republicans plan to get legislation voiding Obama’s law and replacing parts of it to Trump’s by the end of February, House Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., said Wednesday on “The Hugh Hewitt Show,” a conservative radio program. Other Republicans have said they expect the process to take longer.
The 2010 law has been in a consistent death spiral since it’s passage.
All but six of the co-ops have failed, leaving hundreds of thousands of people at a loss for coverage. Insurers have suffered massive losses, resulting in many of them leaving the system all together. Those companies that still remain have repeatedly increased premiums in order to cover their losses, leaving the system affordable for many Americans.
It’s clear that Obamacare is in desperate need of reform in order for it to have any chance of success.
Thursday’s Senate procedural vote will set up special budget rules that will allow the repeal vote to take place with a simple majority in the 100-member Senate, instead of the 60 votes required to move most legislation.
That means Republicans, who control 52 seats, can push through repeal legislation without Democratic cooperation. They’re also discussing whether there are some elements of a replacement bill that could get through at the same time with a simple majority. But for many elements of a new health care law, Republicans are likely to need 60 votes and Democratic support, and at this point the two parties aren’t even talking.
Most Democrats broke with Senate traditions to offer brief explanations of their votes as they cast them. “My conscious compels me to vote ‘no,'” said Sen. Angus King, an Independent from Maine who sides with Democrats. Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, unhappy that the measure endorsed huge budget deficits, was the sole Republican to vote against it.
House leaders planned a Friday vote on the budget.
Some GOP senators have discussed a phase-in of three years or longer to give lawmakers more time to replace Obama’s overhaul and make sure people now covered by that law can adjust to a new program.
While the future of the replacement is uncertain, the process is finally underway, proving Trump’s commitment to revamping the healthcare system in our nation and making America great again.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.