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July 28, 2017
Senate Agrees to Consider Healthcare Bill (Update)

Update below

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On July 25, after much back-and-forth in the Senate and the dramatic return of Senator John McCain—who was recently diagnosed with brain cancer—the Senate agreed to open debate on legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA). With Republican Senators Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski joining all Senate Democrats in voting against the debate, Vice President Mike Pence stepped in to break the tie and get the legislation on the table.

ACASoon after, however, a vote on a version of the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) failed by a count of 43-57.

Today, the Senate is likely to vote on a repeal-only version of the bill—a vote that is also expected to fail. After that, multiple amendments to the bill will likely be introduced (by both parties) in the hopes of getting to some kind of consensus. We’ll keep you posted as new developments unfold.

Update 7/28/17: In the wee hours of the morning, Senators Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and John McCain—in a surprise moment of eleventh-hour drama—joined all of the Senate Democrats in voting down a so-called “skinny repeal” bill that would have permanently repealed the individual mandate, halted the employer mandate for 8 years, and made a few other relatively minor changes to the ACA.

The Senate’s intent was not actually to have the skinny repeal become law, but to pass it as a means to start a conference committee process with the House on a more comprehensive repeal plan. Accordingly, they extracted a pinky promise of sorts from House Speaker Paul Ryan that, if passed by the Senate, the legislation would move to a conference committee rather than to a House vote and then, possibly, President Trump’s desk for a signature.

President Trump’s response came in the form of a tweet sent at 2:25 this morning:

3 Republicans and 48 Democrats let the American people down. As I said from the beginning, let ObamaCare implode, then deal. Watch!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 28, 2017

So, what’s next for the troubled ACA repeal-and-replace process? It’s unclear if Congress will now simply drop it and move on to other priorities (many of which have been held up by the ongoing healthcare saga) or regroup and revisit the issue at a later date. As always, stay tuned to HR.BLR.com® for the latest news. 

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