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Republican ‘repeal-only’ health care measure fails in Senate

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) speaks to reporters during a news conference on Capitol Hill following a procedural vote on the GOP health care bill on July 25, 2017 in Washington, DC. File Photo. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — The Republican-run Senate rejected a GOP proposal Wednesday to scuttle President Barack Obama’s health care law and give Congress two years to devise a replacement.

Seven Republicans joined all Democrats Wednesday in a 45-55 vote defeating the so-called “repeal-only” plan. It was the second self-inflicted setback the GOP has suffered this week in trying to roll back Obama’s 2010 statute.

Conservatives have embraced the effort to repeal the law without an immediate replacement. GOP moderates have worried it would anger voters nervous that Congress would fail to enact a replacement.

Late Tuesday, nine Republicans joined Democrats in blocking a proposal by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to dismantle Obama’s law. It would have replaced it with eased coverage requirements for insurers, less generous federal health care subsidies and other changes.

Doctors and a major health insurer group are criticizing another GOP health care proposal in the Senate.

That idea is called a “skinny repeal,” because it would only get rid of the most unpopular parts of “Obamacare,” such as the requirement that individuals carry health insurance or face fines.

The American Medical Association said in a statement that invites healthy people to opt out of the health insurance market, forcing premiums up for everyone else.

“Eliminating the mandate … only exacerbates the affordability problem,” said the AMA.

That criticism was joined by the BlueCross BlueShield Association. The insurer group also said Congress has to provide money now to help stabilize shaky state markets for individual policies. Insurers want a guarantee that subsidies to help low-income people with their deductibles will continue.

Earlier Wednesday, Trump attacked a Republican senator who opposed moving forward with long-promised legislation to repeal and replace “Obamacare.”

Trump said on Twitter Wednesday that Sen. Lisa Murkowski, of Alaska, “really let the Republicans, and our country, down yesterday. Too bad!”

Murkowski was one of two Republicans who on Tuesday voted against allowing debate of GOP legislation to repeal much of the Affordable Care Act.

The final tally was 51-50, with Vice President Mike Pence breaking the tie.

Trump has been pushing lawmakers to deliver on their promises to repeal and replace. Whether Republicans can find consensus remains unclear.