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Revised GOP health-care bill one vote away from collapse

WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans were taking a wait-and-see approach Friday on a revised health care bill that appeared on the verge of collapse.

The revised bill came under attack from medical organizations and consumer advocates, while conservatives balked at taxes and increased entitlement spending that would remain in the legislation.

“The revised bill does not address the key concerns of physicians and patients regarding proposed Medicaid cuts and inadequate subsidies that will result in millions of Americans losing health care coverage,” said Dr. David Barbe, president of the American Medical Association.

Two Republican senators, Susan Collins of Maine and Rand Paul of Kentucky, immediately announced their opposition to bill that would replace the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.

The revised Senate bill would collapse if one more GOP member votes against advancing the bill next week.

Other lawmakers, mostly centrists like Sens. Dean Heller of Nevada, Rob Portman of Ohio and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, were weighing the revised bill and in talks with the Senate GOP leaders and home state governors.

Medicaid cuts of more than $770 billion and reduced federal reimbursement for expansion under Obamacare has Republicans in states like Nevada concerned about a shift in costs to local taxpayers and reduced coverage.

Heller and other moderates met with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., on Thursday.

Those talks continued again on Friday, and Heller was expected to speak with Nevada Gov. Brian Sandoval, a Republican, who remains concerned about Medicaid cuts in the bill.

Heller, the only Republican up for re-election in a state won by Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton last year, could be “the make or break vote on health care in the Senate,” said Kyle Kondik with the University of Virginia Center for Politics.

Sandoval, attending the National Governors Association summer meeting in Rhode Island, was expected to meet with Vice President Mike Pence. Sandoval said Fridaay that he’s already told Pence he’s concerned about the bill’s cuts to Medicaid.

Heller and Sandoval held a news conference in Las Vegas last month at which the senator announced he would not support the first draft of the Senate health-care bill.

Rep. Dina Titus, D-Nev., who is weighing a race against Heller for the Senate, sent a letter to Sandoval on Friday urging him to “stand your ground” when he meets with Pence over the revised Better Care Reconciliation Act.

“Your leadership has been admirable during this debate,” Titus wrote, adding, “Please stand your ground during conversations with the Vice President and other members of the Trump administration.”

Other lawmakers left Washington for the weekend to await analysis of the legislation expected Monday by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office.

A CBO analysis of the first draft of the Senate bill forecast 22 million people would lose insurance after 10 years.

President Donald Trump has poked Senate Republicans to repeal Obamacare and pass a replacement bill, which would give the president his first major legislative victory. Democrats are united in their opposition against repeal legislation.

The president made repeal a rallying cry during his campaign and he urged Senate Republicans on Friday to vote and “come through as they have promised!”

Contact Gary Martin at 202-662-7390 or gmartin@reviewjournal.com. Follow @garymartindc on Twitter.

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