Republicans Try Again With Health Care Overhaul
DAVID GREENE, HOST:
Republicans are taking another shot at repealing the Affordable Care Act. The bill under consideration now would essentially deconstruct the major programs created by Obamacare and take the money involved and hand it over as block grants to states to run their own health care programs. NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson is on the line.
And Mara, do Republicans have a chance with this one?
MARA LIASSON, BYLINE: Yes, they do. They need 51 votes. And so far, Rand Paul says he's against it. Susan Collins of Maine says she has some real big problems with it. So that would mean that the Republicans can't afford to lose any more votes. John McCain, who was a no vote last time, looks like he's a gettable vote this time because his best friend in the Senate, Lindsey Graham, is one of the authors of the bill. And the governor of his home state, Arizona, is for it.
But on the other side, you have groups like AARP, the American Hospital Association and a bipartisan group of governors who sent a letter against it. That includes Alaska's governor. And Lisa Murkowski of Alaska was one of the no votes last time, so she's a crucial vote this time. And they're all against it because it essentially ends the Medicaid. It sunsets all the Obama subsidies in 2027 and gets rid of the national protections against pre-existing conditions and lifetime caps.
So the big political question for Republicans remains the same - which is worse, the backlash from people who will have their health care taken away versus the backlash from Republican voters who will be angry at them for not repealing Obamacare?
GREENE: Just doesn't get any narrower than this when it comes to...
GREENE: ...Trying to get...
GREENE: So what about the White House? I mean, does President Trump - does he want to spend political capital on this if there's a risk of yet another defeat on this issue?
LIASSON: The White House says they are all in on this. The president himself has been keeping a lower profile than he did in previous efforts. He has been making calls, but he has been at the U.N. this week. The vice president, Mike Pence, has been working very hard for this, lobbying on the Hill. And they're facing - the Republicans are facing a tremendous deadline because the reconciliation, which is the procedural vehicle that allows them to pass this with only 51 votes, turns into a pumpkin at midnight on September 30. It goes away.
GREENE: Mara, there was this word that we used to use in Washington, bipartisanship, that seems to have cropped up again recently with all this talk of, you know, Chuck Schumer and Nancy Pelosi and President Trump making these deals. Is there any chance that there's a new climate now that maybe Democrats would be willing to work with Republicans on this issue in this tight window?
LIASSON: On this issue, no. They were working with Republicans. Lamar Alexander, a Republican, and Patty Murray, a Democrat, were working on a bipartisan bill to stabilize the Obamacare insurance exchanges. But this push for this bill supersedes that. And Democrats are pretty mad about it. As a matter of fact, yesterday Senator Schumer said this would shut down bipartisanship for years to come if they push this through. It's unclear what that means. Bipartisanship isn't a favor one party bestows on the other.
LIASSON: If Chuck Schumer can get a deal on DACA on his terms, why wouldn't he do that just because of this health care bill?
GREENE: OK. NPR national political correspondent Mara Liasson. Mara, thanks.
LIASSON: Thank you. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.