With Senators Rand Paul and Susan Collins stating their opposition to the revised Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) last week, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell could not afford to lose any more votes on the procedural vote to bring the bill to the Senate floor. Last night, Senators Mike Lee and Jerry Moran both announced that they too would vote against the Motion to Proceed – effectively blocking the BCRA from even being considered by the Senate. Lee and Moran both cited the lack of transparency in drafting as their principal reasons for withholding their support, indicating that they wish to return to the drawing board and draft a bill that would do away with ACA regulations to a greater extent.
GOP leaders are now considering a number of different strategies for their ACA repeal. Senator John McCain has suggested that the GOP may have to work with Senate Democrats on a bill that would “fix” the ACA, rather than unilaterally drafting an entirely new law from scratch. The more conservative members of the caucus are advocating a blanket repeal now and a replacement bill at a later date. President Trump has also weighed in, suggesting that they should “let [the ACA] fail,” and then draft a “repeal and replace” measure.
Senator McConnell released the following statement on his intention for the Senate’s next move on healthcare:
In the coming days, the Senate will vote to take up the House bill with the first amendment in order being what a majority of the Senate has already supported in 2015 and that was vetoed by then-President Obama: a repeal of Obamacare with a two-year delay to provide for a stable transition period to a patient-centered healthcare system that gives Americans access to quality, affordable care.
However, this plan appears to be dead on arrival, as Senators Susan Collins, Lisa Murkowski, and Shelley Moore Capito have all refused to support a Motion to Proceed on such a bill.
Senators Lindsey Graham and Bill Cassidy are also pushing for the Senate to consider taking up their bill, which they released the same day as the revised BCRA and offered a different approach that would devolve authority to the states.
As a result of this impasse, the ACA and its associated reporting obligations will remain the law of the land for the foreseeable future – pending any further legislative developments.
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About the Author
Tom Hospod is a member of the Tax Research Team for the Direct Tax division at Sovos Compliance, where his main areas of focus are Tax Withholding and Automatic Exchange of Information (AEOI). Prior to Sovos, Tom worked as a legislative aide in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. He also has experience in securities law—focusing on broker-dealer disputes and representing clients in FINRA arbitration. Tom is a member of the Massachusetts Bar, earned his B.A. from Boston College and his J.D. from the University of Miami.More Content by Tom Hospod