Sens. Ted Cruz and Susan Collins announce opposition to Graham-Cassidy health care bill, adding to GOP resistance

The GOP's latest attempt at an Obamacare repeal bill seemed to take more fatal blows Sunday, with Republican Sens. Susan Collins and Ted Cruz announcing they will likely not vote for the legislation.

Cruz’s call is especially surprising since he voted for earlier bills attempting to repeal and replace Obamacare, and even authored an amendment to help usher one of the failed bills through the Senate.

But he doesn’t think the new Graham-Cassidy health care bill is fit for his support.

“Right now, they don’t have my vote,” the Texas senator said in an appearance at the Texas Tribune Festival.

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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Cruz said the bill — which calls for Obamacare to be dismantled in favor of state-based plans — doesn’t match his desire to see a more competitive health care market.

“I want to be a yes, I want to get there because I believe Obamacare is a disaster, but the price to getting there, I believe, is focusing on consumer freedom,” he said.

Cruz also said he believes Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, a fellow Republican who has wavered on GOP health care bills, also plans to vote against Graham-Cassidy. Lee issued no statement about his intentions on Sunday.

Collins, from Maine, said her “no” vote is all but official.

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“It's difficult for me to envision a scenario where I would end up voting for this bill,” she told CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“I have a number of very serious reservations about it,” she added.

“We already have a problem under the Affordable Care act with the cost of premiums and deductibles, and finally, I'm very concerned about the erosion of protections for people with pre-existing conditions.”

Cruz and Collins’ opposition comes days after Sens. John McCain of Arizona and Rand Paul of Kentucky confirmed that they refuse to support the bill.

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If all of those Republicans follow through on their plans to vote against Graham-Cassidy, it stands zero chance of passing.

This is the GOP’s last chance to leverage its congressional majority for an efficient Obamacare repeal. After Sept. 30, the Senate rules will change and any health care bill would need 60 votes to pass.

The new bill — named after its authors, Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) — is expected to face a Senate vote this week. The Congressional Budget Office has yet to issue its estimate of how many Americans might lose coverage under the bill’s proposed overhaul.

President Trump has praised the legislation as a “great bill” and has promoted it in several tweets that misrepresent what it would do to the nation’s health care system.

Cassidy defends health care bill against Jimmy Kimmel's criticism

But Democrats and medical groups have been uniform in their opposition, and the bill never seemed to stand a serious chance of winning over the GOP.

Under Graham-Cassidy, Obamacare’s federal funding for health care would be broken into block grants that states can use however they see fit.

But the bill would also scrap the Obamacare regulations for what kind of health care plans states must offer — leaving states open to jacking up premiums while cutting down on coverage.

The bill would also drastically slash Medicaid and allow states to opt out of Obamacare rules ensuring coverage for citizens with preexisting conditions.

Despite all of the opposition, Graham said Sunday he believes the Senate vote will somehow succeed.

"I think we're going to get the votes next week," he told ABC News' "This Week."

"And the fight goes on. It is a fight worth having."

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