Late into the night and early morning of July 27-28, the U.S. Senate concluded their 20 hours of debate on the American Health Care Act (AHCA) (H.R. 1628). At the conclusion of the debate, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell offered the Health Care Freedom Act of 2017 – his substitute amendment to the AHCA. At approximately 1:30 am, the Senate voted and the amendment failed 49-51. Republican Senators Susan Collins (ME), Lisa Murkowski (AK), and John McCain (AZ) joined the 48 Democrats in voting against the amendment.
The McConnell substitute, referred to as the “skinny repeal” plan, had been developed through intense negotiation over the previous week. There was some anticipation that the “skinny repeal” plan would be able to secure enough Republican support to pass and allow the House and Senate to go to a conference committee to reconcile differences and draft a new bill for consideration in the fall.
The McConnell proposal would have repealed the individual/employer mandates, given broad power to the states to weaken insurance reforms and consumer protections, and resulted in over 15 million people losing their insurance. In addition, it included a framework that potentially would have incorporated major portions of the House bill in any final legislative package – including the House Medicaid reforms.
Senate Majority Leader McConnell acknowledged defeat and announced that the Senate would move to other business. This perhaps brings to a close a nearly 7-year effort to dismantle the current law. The President issued an official announcement via Twitter.
Thanks to all who sent messages to Senator Portman during this lengthy process. Watch future editions of the Weekly Family Medicine Update for further developments relative to bipartisan fixes to the Affordable Care Act or additional attempts to repeal and replace.