Lindsey Graham responds to his best friend, John McCain, dealing a critical blow to his major health care bill

Sen. Lindsey Graham responded Friday to Sen. John McCain's announcement that he would vote against the Graham-Cassidy healthcare proposal set to come before the Senate for a vote next week.

McCain, an Arizona Republican, dealt a critical blow to the bill with his announcement. Without McCain's "yes" vote, Republicans are virtually assured they will not reach the 50 votes necessary to pass the legislation.

Graham, the bill's sponsor, and McCain share one of the closest friendships in Congress.

"My friendship with John McCain is not based on how he votes but respect for how he’s lived his life and the person he is," Graham, a South Carolina Republican, said in a Friday statement. "I respectfully disagree with his position not to proceed forward on Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson. I know Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson is the best chance to repeal and replace Obamacare."

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Graham-Cassidy: What you need to know about the new GOP health care bill
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Graham-Cassidy: What you need to know about the new GOP health care bill

The legislation was initially proposed by Senators Lindsay Graham (center) and Bill Cassidy. Cassidy (right of Graham) is a physician in addition to being a lawmaker.

(Photo By Tom Williams/CQ Roll Call)

Many health experts say that waivers in the bill could allow states to remove one of the more popular aspects of Obamacare -- the protection of people with preexisting conditions from being charged more for insurance -- if the deregulation would lower overall health costs.

The legislation also requires states to prove that any new health care system "intends to maintain access to adequate and affordable health insurance coverage for individuals with preexisting conditions."

(Photo: Getty Images)

The bill's current text complies with the conservative-favorite Hyde Amendment, which states that no taxpayer funds shall pay for abortions except in the case of rape, incest or if the mother's life is at risk.

Because of specific Congressional rules, the Senate parliamentarian will have to agree on the structure of the legislative language in blocking federally subsidized programs from including abortion coverage.

Even if the language is blocked, though, the Graham-Cassidy bill would funnel funding through the Children's Health Insurance Program beginning in 2021 -- which is compliant with the Hyde Amendment. 

(Photo: REUTERS/Rebecca Cook)

A study by the Commonwealth Fund estimates that around 15 million to 18 million more Americans would be without coverage by 2020 under the plan.

(Photo: Getty) 

The Brookings Institution estimates the number of people with insurance coverage would drop by around 21 million between 2020 and 2026.

(Getty Images)

The bill would also eliminate the mandate enforcing that everyone either have insurance or pay a penalty.

The Brookings Institution estimates the number of people with insurance coverage would drop by 32 million by 2027.

Beginning in 2020, the bill as law would eliminate Obamacare's Medicaid expansion and ends its marketplace subsidies.

(Photo: Getty)

Under the bill, CNN reports 34 states would receive less federal dollars for health care than they currently do under Obamacare.

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"Obamacare is collapsing in Arizona, South Carolina, and across the nation — driving up premiums and reducing choices," he continued. "I feel an obligation to fix this disaster and intend to push forward for state-centric health care versus Washington-knows-best health care. "I’m completely convinced taking money and power out of Washington and returning it to states to administer health care is the best way to replace a collapsing Obamacare system. I’m excited about solutions we have found in Graham-Cassidy-Heller-Johnson. We press on."

Earlier Friday, McCain said Republicans "should not be content to pass healthcare legislation on a party-line basis."

"I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal," he said. "I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried. Nor could I support it without knowing how much it will cost, how it will effect insurance premiums, and how many people will be helped or hurt by it. Without a full CBO score, which won’t be available by the end of the month, we won’t have reliable answers to any of those questions."

"I take no pleasure in announcing my opposition," he continued. "Far from it. The bill’s authors are my dear friends, and I think the world of them. I know they are acting consistently with their beliefs and sense of what is best for the country. So am I. I hope that in the months ahead, we can join with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to arrive at a compromise solution that is acceptable to most of us, and serves the interests of Americans as best we can." 

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