Sen. John McCain says he can't vote for the GOP's Graham-Cassidy health care bill

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - U.S. Senator John McCain said on Friday he opposes the latest Republican bill to dismantle Obamacare, dealing the measure a heavy blow, with several other Republicans still undecided on the measure.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has been planning to bring the bill to the Senate floor for a vote next week, setting up what would be another dramatic decision on a 2010 law that President Donald Trump and his fellow Republicans have vowed to dismantle.

But the announcement by McCain, a Republican who has often been at odds with Trump and who cast a crucial "no" vote in July that helped defeat a different Republican bill to repeal Obamacare, had the potential to up-end McConnell's plans. McConnell did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

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
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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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Republicans have only a slim Senate majority and cannot afford to lose many votes on the bill, their latest attempt to dismantle a law that brought health insurance to millions of Americans and became former Democratic President Barack Obama's signature domestic achievement.

McConnell has been trying to schedule a vote on the bill by Sept. 30, which is the last day it could pass with only a simple majority of 51 votes in the Senate. A vote taken any later than that would have to garner at least 60 votes for passage.

Republicans have long criticized Obamacare, known formally as the Affordable Care Act, as government overreach into America's healthcare system and have been trying to repeal it for seven years, but without success thus far.

The latest bill was introduced by Republican Senators Bill Cassidy and Lindsey Graham, who is a close friend of McCain's.

John McCain through the years

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John McCain through the years
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John McCain through the years
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 27: TV RATINGS--Senate Commerce Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., during hearing on the TV ratings system. (Photo by Douglas Graham/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
20th August 1992: The Republican Senator from Arizona, John McCain, speaking at the Republican National Convention. A fomer prisoner of war for several years in Vietnam, he contested his party's nomination for the 2000 election. (Photo by Consolidated News Pictures/Getty Images)
HANOI, VIET NAM: U.S. Sen. John McCain, a former POW, looks 31 May 1993 at a display of personal belongings of American POWs at the joint POW/MIA archives center in the Hanoi Army Museum. McCain is with U.S. Sen. John Kerry and a delegation on a two-day visit aimed at obtaining more access to archives dealing with the fate of missing U.S. servicemen. (Photo credit should read HOANG DINH NAM/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - MAY 18: MCCAIN'S DAY--Sen John McCain, R-Ariz., relaxes in his office at about 2:15 p.m. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 02: McCAIN BILL--John McCain,R-Ariz.,during a press conference on the McCain Bill and tobacco legislation. (Photo by Douglas Graham/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, : US Senator John McCain, R-AZ, chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation begins the start of a hearing on the investigation of the scandal surrounding the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympics on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC 14 April, 1999. AFP PHOTO/Mario TAMA (Photo credit should read MARIO TAMA/AFP/Getty Images)
HANOVER, : US Senator John McCain speaks to reporters 27 October,1999 in Hanover, New Hampshire. McCain criticized sugar, oil, and corn (shown behind) subsidies and linked them to 'soft money' campaign contributions. (ELECTRONIC IMAGE) AFP PHOTO Luke FRAZZA (Photo credit should read LUKE FRAZZA/AFP/Getty Images)
MANCHESTER, : Republican president hopeful John McCain greets supporters as he arrives at a debate forum sponsored by a local television station 02 December, 1999, in Manchester, New Hampshire. McCain will debate the other Republican candidates seeking the party's presidential nomination. (DIGITAL IMAGE) AFP PHOTO/John MOTTERN (Photo credit should read JOHN MOTTERN/AFP/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - CIRCA 2000: John McCain addresses a shadow convention at the Annenberg Center of the University of Pennsylvania. McCain was booed when he asked suppoters to back his former primary opponent, George W. Bush. The shadow convention was put on near the site of the Republican National Convention in Philadelphia to highlight issues that the organizers say the major parties are ignoring. (Photo by Harry Hamburg/NY Daily News Archive via Getty Images)
CAMDEN, UNITED STATES: GOP presidential hopeful US Senator John McCain (R-AZ) waves during an 'Old Fashion BBQ and Stump Meeting' on the front yard of a supporter's house 08 January 2000 in Camden, South Carolina. (ELECTRONIC IMAGE) AFP PHOTO/Paul J. RICHARDS (Photo credit should read PAUL J. RICHARDS/AFP/Getty Images)
PETERBOROUGH, NH - JANUARY 30: Republican presidential hopeful Sen. John McCain (L) and his wife Cindy are showered with confetti following McCain's final town meeting 30 January, 2000 in Peterborough, New Hampshire. (ELECTRONIC IMAGE) (Photo credit should read C.J. GUNTHER/AFP/Getty Images)
GREENWOOD, : Republican presidential hopeful John McCain makes a point 14 February 2000 during a town hall meeting at the American Legion Post 20 in Greenwood, South Carolina. McCain is campaigning heavily in the southern state against Texas Governor Geroge W. Bush ahead of the 19 February 2000 primary. (ELECTRONIC IMAGE) AFP PHOTO/Tim SLOAN (Photo credit should read TIM SLOAN/AFP/Getty Images)
THE TONIGHT SHOW WITH JAY LENO -- Episode 1789 -- Pictured: (l-r) Senator John McCain during an interview with host Jay Leno on March 1, 2000 -- (Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - APRIL 30: Sen. John McCain, R-AZ, at a Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing on climate change. (Photo By Tom Williams/Roll Call/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - FEBRUARY 12: TEMPORARY GUEST WORKERS--Witness Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., during the Senate Judiciary Immigration, Border Security and Citizenship Subcommittee hearing titled 'Evaluating a Temporary Guest Worker Proposal.' (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
UNITED STATES - JUNE 28: SENATE POLICY LUNCHES--Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., talks to reporters after the Senate GOP policy luncheon. (Photo by Scott J. Ferrell/Congressional Quarterly/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON - SEPTEMBER 20: U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) addresses The Northern Virginia Technology Council's Titans breakfast at the Capitol Hilton September 20, 2006 in Washington, DC. McCain spoke on a variety of subjects, including telecommunications legislation, net neutrality, research and development tax credits, immigration, and Internet taxes. He also addressed the rift that he and several other Republican senators are having with the White House over the Geneva Conventions. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
KABUL, AFGHANISTAN - JULY 04: US Senator John McCain (C) holds a press conference at ISAF HQ in Kabul, Afghanistan on July 4, 2017. US Senator John McCain visited the headquarters of NATO-led mission after his visit at Pakistan. (Photo by Haroon Sabawoon/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images)
WASHINGTON, July 13, 2017 -- U.S. Senator John McCain is swarmed by reporters as he leaves a meeting on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. July 13, 2017. Senate Republicans of the U.S. Congress on Thursday unveiled a new healthcare bill that they hoped can fulfill their long-time goal to 'repeal and replace' the Affordable Care Act. (Xinhua/Ting Shen via Getty Images)
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"I cannot in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal," McCain said in a public statement.

McCain, who cast his "no" vote in July just days after being diagnosed with an aggressive brain cancer, said he could not support the bill without knowing how much it would cost and how it would affect insurance coverage, adding that both parties would do better to work together on legislation.

The Graham-Cassidy bill would take money spent by the U.S. government on the Medicaid program for the poor and disabled, as well as subsidies to help Americans buy private insurance, and divvy it up among states in block grants. Advocates say that would give states more discretion to manage their own healthcare schemes.

Under this plan, Alaska by 2026 would lose 38 percent of its federal funding for insurance subsidies and Medicaid, while Arizona would lose 9 percent, the Axios news website reported on Friday, citing the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), a unit of the Department of Health and Human Services that oversees Medicaid and the Obamacare program.

The CMS had no immediate comment on the Axios report.

Alaska's two Republican senators, Lisa Murkowski and Dan Sullivan, are both still on the fence over the bill.

McCain, of Arizona, is one of at least six Republican senators who either oppose the bill or whose positions are still not firm.

Rand Paul, of Kentucky, is the only other Republican senator who has publicly said he opposes the bill. Susan Collins, of Maine, said she was leaning against the bill, the Portland Press-Herald newspaper reported on Friday.

(Reporting by Susan Heavey and Susan Cornwell; Additional reporting by Roberta Rampton; Writing by Frances Kerry; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Leslie Adler)

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