Narrow Vote Preserves Landmark Health Care Law for Now
Washington – Republican Sens. Susan Collins (R-Me.), John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) joined with Democrats to defeat an intense push by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) to pass a so-called “skinny repeal,” of the Affordable Care Act, a vehicle to get to conference with House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.).
The National Health Law Program (NHeLP), devoted to advocating for the health rights of low-income individuals and underserved communities, called the defeat a major victory for low-income individuals, families, and underserved communities who would have quickly lost health care coverage gained after enactment of the ACA. The defeat of the repeal effort also shuts the door, for now, on Republican efforts to drastically cut the funding of Medicaid, which would have further caused unfathomable harm to tens of millions of low-income people and vulnerable populations.
NHeLP Executive Director Elizabeth G. Taylor said, “Senators Collins, McCain and Murkowski showed great compassion and courage in standing with Democrats in defeating a blatant effort to ram a bill through the chamber and conference with the House to produce what in all likelihood would have been a comprehensive repeal of the Affordable Care Act and an attack on the Medicaid entitlement. This is wonderful news. But health care advocates and all who care about equality and human rights will need to remain vigilant in the face of a Republican congressional leadership that is bent on advancing an austerity agenda, which would include rolling back health care reforms advanced by the ACA.”
Managing Attorney of the DC office Mara Youdelman said that while the Republican leadership’s goal of destroying the ACA and Medicaid had suffered a setback, the Trump administration would continue to take action to undermine the ACA and that it is all but guaranteed the Senate leadership will eventually mount another legislative effort to undermine the ACA.
“While today’s setback is welcome news, health care advocates, and civil rights, labor, reproductive health groups, and disability rights groups will continue fighting to secure the health rights of individuals and families, particularly low-income people and those in underserved communities,” Youdelman said. “Additionally, the Senate and House repeal bills particularly targeted the health rights of women, especially women of color, who would have lost access to comprehensive health care services, which must include access to reproductive health care. Many women enrolled in Medicaid rely on Planned Parenthood for health care services and the Senate and House sought to defund those services. People living with complex health care conditions, people living with disabilities, and those with pre-existing conditions would have been disproportionately harmed by a rollback of the ACA and drastic cuts to Medicaid.
While we can celebrate today, tomorrow we will continue working to counter the efforts of the Trump administration to undermine the Affordable Care Act. We must fight to ensure that the president and Congress uphold the law of the land, not sabotage it.”
Contact Communications Director Jeremy Leaming for additional comment from NHeLP about the Trump administration’s efforts to undermine the ACA.