Sen. John McCain Says He Won’t Support Republicans’ Health Care Bill

September 22, 2017 Updated: September 24, 2017    

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) announced on Friday that he will not vote in favor of a bill that would repeal and replace parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare.

McCain said in a statement that he cannot “in good conscience vote for the Graham-Cassidy proposal,” saying he favors a collaboration between Republicans and Democrats instead.

His opposition to the bill likely means it will fail in a vote scheduled for Sept. 30. At least one other Republican, Senator Rand Paul (Ky.), has said he would vote against it, and two other Republican Sens., Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska), who voted alongside McCain against the so-called “skinny repeal” (the American Health Care Act of 2017) on July 28 are expected to vote against it.

McCain’s opposition to the Republican attempts to reform the ACA has been a sore point for many Republicans as they have campaigned on the issue for eight years.

The ACA was passed in March 2010 by a Democrat-controlled Senate and House against fierce Republican opposition. At the time, House Minority leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) said: “In a democracy, you can only ignore the will of the people for so long and get away with it.”

President Donald Trump has been a strong critic of the bill, pointing to the increase in premiums in many states and the lack of choice for its consumers.

President Donald Trump waits to greet Malaysia's Prime Minister Najib Razak at the White House in Washington on Sept. 12, 2017. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)
President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington on Sept. 12, 2017. (REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst)

Under the Graham-Cassidy proposal much of the ACA’s funding would be given to the states in the form of block-grants, allowing them to decide how to best provide health care.

Certain unpopular features of the ACA, such as the individual mandate which requires every U.S. citizen to have health care would be scrapped, as well as fines for employers who do not provide health care for their employees.

It would still provide low-income families with assistance and allow children up to 26 years old to stay on their parent’s plan. The bill would also require insurance companies to cover people with pre-existing conditions, one of the requirements set forth by Trump.

Sept. 30 is the last date on which the Republicans could pass the health care bill under reconciliation procedures, which only need 50 votes, instead of 60 in the event of a filibuster, to pass.

Republicans had hoped that McCain would vote in favor of Graham and Cassidy’s bill given his close friendship with the two senators.