WASHINGTON (CBSNewYork/AP) — President Donald Trump said Tuesday he’s “disappointed” by the collapse of the GOP effort to rewrite former President Barack Obama’s health care law, saying it’s time to “let Obamacare fail.”
Trump told reporters during a lunch with service members that “we haven’t had a victory on health care.”
“I’m certainly disappointed,” the president said. “For seven years, I’ve been hearing repeal and replace from Congress, and I’ve been hearing it loud and strong, and when we finally get the chance to repeal and replace, they don’t take advantage of it.”
He said letting Obamacare fail will “be a lot easier.”
“We’re not going to own it, I’m not going to own it and I can tell you the Republicans are not going to own it,” he said. “We’ll let Obamacare fail and then the Democrats are going to come to us and they’re going to say how do we fix it or how do we come up with a new plan?”
Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, acknowledging he lacks support for his latest proposed substitute, said Tuesday that the Senate would vote instead on dismantling much of the statute enacted under Obama. He said that proposal would take effect in two years, giving Congress time to approve replacement legislation.
“Passing a repeal legislation will allow us to accomplish what we need to do on behalf of our people,” McConnell said.
But Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska said they opposed McConnell’s Plan B.
“I believe it would cause the insurance markets to go into turmoil, and I don’t think it is the right way to proceed,” Collins said.
McConnell can lose only two Republican votes in the closely divided Senate, meaning the bill cannot advance.
All Senate Democrats are opposed, with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. saying the plan to repeal Obamacare would be a “disaster.”
“We’re ready to sit down right now if Republicans abandon cuts to Medicaid, abandon huge tax breaks for the wealthy, and agree to go through the regular order – through the committees,” Schumer said.
No matter what the outcome, it appears the country will be divided once again, CBS2’s Dick Brennan reported.
“If anyone is benefiting from Obamacare now, they will continue to be protected, they have nothing to worry about,” Rep. Peter King (R-N.Y.) said. “However, those who have been hurt by Obamacare — for instance people whose premiums have gone up dramatically or those who’ve had their deductible go up dramatically — they are still going to be hurt.”
The Congressional Budget Office has predicted that repeal without replacement would have more immediate impacts, as insurance companies confront uncertainty by raising rates.
So what’s next for those in the Tri-State Area that have Obamacare?
“For the time being, nothing has changed. The law is fully in effect, and everybody watching should consider either resigning up for coverage or signing up for coverage,” CEO of New York State Health Foundation David Sandman told Brennan.
“In New York, we’re fortunate because we have a really forward-thinking state government, which has already spent millions of dollars in Medicaid redesign and reform, and so people – whether you’re private insured or public insured through Medicare or Medicaid – we’re going to be OK,” Assistant Professor of Health at Hofstra University Anthony Santella added.
Repealing the act was a campaign promise of Trump and many Republican lawmakers, who say an unfettered free market will offer more choices to consumers.
Earlier Tuesday, Trump unleashed a barrage of criticism at Congress over the collapse of the bill.
“Most Republicans were loyal, terrific & worked really hard,” Trump tweeted Tuesday morning, but said, “We were let down by all of the Democrats and a few Republicans.”
He added, “As I have always said, let ObamaCare fail and then come together and do a great healthcare plan. Stay tuned!”
Two GOP senators, Utah’s Mike Lee and Jerry Moran of Kansas, sealed the measure’s doom late Monday when they announced they would vote “no” in an initial, critical vote that had been expected as soon as next week.
That meant that at least four of the 52 GOP senators were ready to block the measure — two more than McConnell had to spare in the face of unanimous Democratic opposition.
“Regretfully, it is now apparent that the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare will not be successful,” McConnell said in a late Monday evening statement.
On the Senate floor Tuesday, McConnell conceded that the legislation repealing the 2010 law and replacing it with GOP-preferred programs “will not be successful.”
McConnell’s failed bill would have left 22 million uninsured by 2026, according to the CBO, a number that many Republicans found unpalatable.
Similar to legislation the House approved in May after its own setbacks, McConnell’s bill would repeal Obama’s tax penalties on people who don’t buy coverage and cut the Medicaid program for the poor, elderly and nursing home residents. It rolled back many of the statute’s requirements for the policies insurers can sell and eliminated many tax increases that raised money for Obama’s expansion to 20 million more people, though it retained the law’s tax boosts on high earners.
“We are hopeful the Senate can move forward on this issue,” House Speaker Paul Ryan said Tuesday. “Obamacare is in the middle of a tailspin. This law is collapsing, so we’ve got a promise to keep and also we need to step ahead of the problem.”
Besides Lee and Moran, two other GOP senators had previously declared their opposition to McConnell’s bill, Collins and conservative Rand Paul of Kentucky. Other moderates were wavering and could have been difficult for McConnell and Trump to win over because of the bill’s Medicaid cuts.
The range of objections lodged by the dissident senators underscored the warring viewpoints within his own party that McConnell had to try patching over. Lee complained that the GOP bill didn’t go far enough in rolling back Obama’s robust coverage requirements, while moderates like Collins berated its Medicaid cuts and the millions it would leave without insurance.
The vote for a clean repeal could take place as early as Wednesday, Brennan reported. Even though it doesn’t have enough votes to pass, the Republican Senate leadership is looking to get lawmakers on the record.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)