At Least 9 GOP Senators Already Have Issues With The New Health Care Bill

Senate Republicans finally unveiled their secretive revisions to the House health care bill on Thursday. The updated legislation, called the Better Care Reconciliation Act, looks eerily similar to the one passed by the House—despite Republican promises to completely rewrite the old bill in Senate.

As it now stands, the BRCA would not pass according to a Washington Post whip count. It’s extremely unlikely that any Democrats will support it. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) therefore needs to get at least 50 of 52 Republican senators on board in order to pass the bill—and four of them have already declared they would not vote for the bill in its current form.

Shortly after the legislation was revealed, Republicans Senators Ted Cruz (Texas), Ron Johnson (Wis.), Mike Lee (Utah) and Rand Paul (Ky.) released a joint statement in opposition to the bill.

“Currently, for a variety of reasons, we are not ready to vote for this bill, but we are open to negotiation and obtaining more information before it is brought to the floor,” the statement read. “There are provisions in this draft that represent an improvement to our current health care system, but it does not appear this draft as written will accomplish the most important promise that we made to Americans: to repeal Obamacare and lower their health care costs.”

They’re not the only senators who have openly criticized the bill.

Senator Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska.) have both expressed their concerns with the bill’s proposed defunding of Planned Parenthood. “I do not like the provision that eliminates federal funding for Planned Parenthood,” Collins said, according to USA Today. “It makes no sense to single out Planned Parenthood from all the Medicaid providers and say that it can’t be a Medicaid provider.”

“Taxpayer dollars should not be used to pay for abortions, but I will not vote to deny Alaskans access to the health services Planned Parenthood provides,” Murkowski added.

There’s also Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and Shelley Moore Capito (R-W. Va.), who are against the GOP bill’s rapid rollback of the Medicaid funding. Ohio and West Virginia, like many other states, expanded their Medicaid enrollments under the ACA. The increased access to health care allowed many low-income adults to get treatment for opioid addictions.

West Virginia has the highest overdose death rate in the country, while the number of fatal drug overdoses in Ohio increased by 642 percent between 2000 and 2015. Getting rid of federal health care funding for low-income childless adults (the demographic most affected by the opioid crisis) wouldn't just be "bad" for Portman’s and Moore’s constituents—it would be deadly. 

Republican Senator Dean Heller (Nev.) also saw his state expand Medicaid under Obamacare. “I have made clear that I want to make sure the rug is not pulled out from under Nevada or the more than 200,000 Nevadans who received insurance for the first time under Medicaid expansion,” Heller said in a statement. Both Heller and Cruz are up for re-election in 2018, which might explain their hesitation to pass the extremely unpopular Senate bill.

And while President Donald Trump says he supports the new bill, let’s not forget that just last week he called the same one “mean.”

With the Fourth of July Congressional recess coming up, GOP leaders have just one week to change their health bill enough to lure back doubtful conservatives. Otherwise, the same Senators will have a chance to face opposition groups and angry voters at home.