The odds for Senate Republicans to repeal and replace Obamacare got steeper over their week-long break, as opponents of their current plan dug in deeper and a path to consensus failed to materialize.
Upward of a dozen Republicans oppose the bill drafted by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell. Senate leaders and the White House are still bent on pushing the legislation through in the next few weeks, but their success increasingly depends on the GOP holdouts making unlikely and unimaginable reversals on the deeply unpopular bill.
The Republican plan, as currently written, is projected to lead to 22 million fewer Americans having health insurance, a $772 billion cut to Medicaid, and 15 million fewer people enrolled in that program versus Obamacare, according to estimates from the Congressional Budget Office.
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While members of Congress were back in their districts for the July 4 recess, opponents of the bill like Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) became even more brash in their intransigence. At the same time, usually reliable Republican votes like Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND) came out against the plan.
McConnell's best hope now is cosmetic changes to the legislation that, while not changing the underlying structure, could give opponents cover to come around and support it. But after their past comments on the bill, it's hard to imagine how some of these holdouts could ever support anything resembling the current plan. That would require epic reversals over relatively modest policy changes.
Given the thin margin for error — 50 of the 52 Senate Republicans must back the health care bill — it's become increasingly difficult for it to pass. But McConnell and his lieutenants are going to try. They want to be done with health care before August.