The US Senate’s Health Care bill, drafted as a replacement for Obamacare, has collapsed.
The bill was part of the Republican agenda of repealing and replacing the health care system enforced during the Barack Obama presidency.
The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act also known as Obamacare was one of the largest restructuring of the health care system in US. Its goal was to provide health insurance coverage to around 15% of the US population who did not have it. The law was passed in 2010 but it was opposed by the Republicans. The party’s leadership argued that this law would be hard on business enterprises.
US President Donald Trump emerged as a staunch critic of this Act. One of the important promises that he made during his campaign was to repeal and replace Obamacare.
According to the National Centre for Health Statistics, the healthcare costs in US in 2015 was approximately $3.2 trillion.
The first draft of the American Health Care Act of 2017 was released by the Republicans on March 6, 2017. However, the Act was met with widespread protest as details emerged that 23 million Americans will lose coverage over 10 years. This Act would have, however, resulted in the reduction of the federal budget deficit by $119 billion in a decade.
With the first bill losing steam, the Senate led by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell started working on the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017. Of the 13 senators who had been appointed to draft this bill, there were no Democrats or Independents. Drafted in secrecy, even Republican leaders like John McCain did not know of its content. The senate leadership did not hold hearings or receive inputs from the Democrats.
When the bill was made public, the bipartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) said that 22 million Americans would lose coverage.
The Trump White House has actively campaigned for this bill to pass. Republican senators, Mike Lee and Jerry Moran said that they wouldn’t support the bill. This was in addition to Senators, Susan Collins and Rand Paul, who had already notified that they would be voting against the bill. The Republicans have 52 of the 100 seats in the Senate. With 4 votes down, despite having majority both in the House and the Senate, they no longer have the majority to pass the BCRA.
Mitch McConnell has now said that while this bill has met its demise, the Senate will push for repealing Obamacare without a replacement. Similar sentiments have been echoed by Trump through his Twitter account.
Our assessment is that the defeat of the health care bill will be a significant blow to the Trump presidency. He had promised voters that as a businessman he would able to negotiate advantageous deals for the American public. We predict that the Republican effort will repeal ACA will flounder under public pressure when wavering senators return home to face strong opposition from voters.