In what proved to be a dramatic night, the Senate voted in the early hours Friday morning on their last ditch health care effort, the “Skinny Repeal.” The Skinny Repeal would eliminate the individual health coverage mandate as well as the employer mandate and would have also eliminated the medical device tax.
The Skinny Repeal Bill
The skinny repeal bill was kept from Senators and the public until 10 pm ET when it was released. The bill was scored by the Congressional Budget Office with a report released late Thursday night. The CBO found the skinny repeal option would leave 15 million Americans uninsured next year with 16 million fewer Americans covered by 2026. The report also found that premiums would jump 20% next year under the new legislation.
Just hours before the vote 4 Senators, John McCain (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Ron Johnson (R-WI ), and Bill Cassidy (R-LA ) said they would not vote yes on the bill without assurance from the House that they would move to a conference on the bill and would not just pass it as is.
Senator Graham said, “I’m not going to vote for a bill that is terrible policy and politics just to get something done.”
Pressure Applied and Votes Cast
Those four reluctant Senators had a phone conversation with Speaker of the House Paul Ryan (R-WI) who said the House would be willing to go to a conference committee. Rep. Ryan was careful in his statement. He did not include a guarantee that the House would not vote on the Skinny Repeal.
After discussion with Ryan, Senators Graham, Johnson and Cassidy were yes votes, feeling confident this terrible bill could be fixed after it passed in committee with the House. McCain remained unsure.
Before the final vote Vice President, Mike Pence attempted to sway the Arizona Senator, at one point President Trump called Pence who handed the phone to McCain. The conversation between the President and the Senator was brief and proved unsuccessful at winning McCain’s support.
In the end, Senator McCain joined Senator’s Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), Susan Collins (R-ME) and all Senate Democrats in voting against the Skinny Repeal. The Republican effort marked a last attempt to put together something on health care that could garner 50 votes. It was defeated 51-49.