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McConnell says limited bill needed if GOP health bill dies

By in Press Enterprise on July 6, 2017

By The Associated Press

By BRUCE SCHREINER and ALAN FRAM

GLASGOW, Ky. — A bill focused on buttressing the nation’s insurance marketplaces will be needed if the full-fledged Republican effort to repeal much of President Barack Obama’s health care law fails, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said Thursday.

It was one of his most explicit acknowledgments that his party’s top-priority drive to erase much of Obama’s landmark 2010 statutes might fall short.

The remarks by McConnell, R-Ky., also implicitly meant that to show progress on health care, Republicans controlling the White House and Congress might have to negotiate with Democrats.

While the current, wide-ranging GOP health care bill — which McConnell is still hoping to push through the Senate — has procedural protections against a Democratic Senate filibuster, a subsequent, narrower measure wouldn’t and would take 60 votes to pass.

The existing bill would fail if just three of the 52 Republicans vote no, since all Democrats oppose it. McConnell was forced to cancel a planned vote on the measure last week after far more Republicans than that objected, and he’s been spending the Independence Day recess studying possible changes that might win over GOP dissidents.

“If my side is unable to agree on an adequate replacement, then some kind of action with regard to the private health insurance market must occur,” McConnell said at a Rotary Club lunch in this deep-red rural area of southern Kentucky. He made the comment after being asked if he envisioned needing bipartisan cooperation to replace Obama’s law.

“No action is not an alternative,” McConnell said. “We’ve got the insurance markets imploding all over the country, including in this state.”

In a written statement, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., called it encouraging that McConnell had “opened the door to bipartisan solutions.” He said the focus should be on continuing federal payments to insurers that help […]    

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