Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Ala. election makes Obamacare repeal less likely

Jones and wife Louise.(Photo: Bastien Inzaurralde, W.Post)
Alabama Democrat Doug Jones' narrow win yesterday over Roy Moore for a U.S. Senate seat will make Republican efforts to repeal and replace the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act even more difficult.

"Up until now, the Senate GOP's 52-seat majority allowed the party to lose two votes on a health-care bill, with tie-breaking help from Vice President Pence. That’s an important number, because the two most moderate Republicans – Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska and Susan Collins of Maine – have been regarded as nearly impossible to bring on board," Paige Cunnningham reports for The Washington Post.

While it may seems unlikely that Republicans will renew their push for ACA repeal before the 2018 midterm elections, "Behind the scenes, some GOP lawmakers are also convinced they should return to the effort once taxes are out of the way; after all, repealing Obamacare is something they relentlessly promised when a Democrat was in the White House," Cunningham writes. "The GOP idea is to pass a new budget resolution for next year, giving them another way to avoid attracting Democratic support for a controversial health-care measure by seeking just 50 votes for it."

In the meantime, Jones isn't waiting until January to make use of the bully pulpit; in his victory speech last night he called on Congress to "go ahead and fund that CHIP program before I get up there." He refers to the Children's Health Insurance Program, which expired without reauthorization Sept. 30 and covers 9 million children from low- and mid-income families who cannot afford health insurance.

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