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Key GOP senators slam House Obamacare replacement after CBO report

  • Key Republican senators like Bill Cassidy and Susan Collins say the Congressional Budget Office score shows the House-passed health-care bill is not adequate
  • Sen. Lindsey Graham suggests a "collapse and replace" strategy
Bill Cassidy, republican candidate in 2014 for U.S. Senator from Louisiana.
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Bill Cassidy, republican candidate in 2014 for U.S. Senator from Louisiana.

Multiple Republican senators on Wednesday criticized the House-passed Obamacare replacement plan after a Congressional Budget Office report estimated the bill's effects.

GOP senators are working to pass a health-care proposal, though some lawmakers have suggested they could scrap the House plan entirely.

The nonpartisan CBO estimates that the American Health Care Act will lead to 23 million more uninsured people in 2026 than under current law. It also finds that average premiums will generally fall, though whether states decide to take waivers allowed under the plan will affect how much the costs change.

But sick Americans in many states and people above 64 years of age could see costs spike under the bill, the CBO said.

"Congress's focus must be to lower premiums with coverage which passes the Jimmy Kimmel Test. The AHCA does not. I am working with Senate colleagues to do so," said Sen. Bill Cassidy, a Republican from Louisiana, in a statement.

The "Jimmy Kimmel Test" refers to a term Cassidy coined after the late-night TV host told the story of his son, who was born with heart defects. Cassidy has said the "test" is whether children in that situation would get the health care they need.

Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine said the CBO score showed the plan did not go far enough to expand coverage and would hurt older Americans.

"The goal of any ACA replacement should be to improve access to quality health care while providing consumers with more choices and restraining costs. Unfortunately, the CBO estimates that 23 million Americans would lose insurance coverage over the next decade, and the impact would disproportionately affect older, low-income Americans," she said in a statement.

Cassidy and Collins have proposed an alternative Obamacare replacement plan.

GOP Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina also said the CBO report showed the "Collapse and Replace" of Obamacare "may prove to be the most effective path forward." In tweets, he suggested that Republicans should let Obamacare collapse and "challenge Democrats to work with us to fix the mess they created."

Republicans can only afford to lose two votes to pass a health-care plan if no Democrats or independents support it.

Watch: Expert says it's 'game on' over health care