A lot of stories have broken this weekend; here’s a quick overview of what’s going on. As you consider these tidbits, the key facts to remember are (a) the bill won’t pass if more than two Republican senators oppose it and (b) John McCain has already said he’ll vote no.
‐ Susan Collins, who’s consistently opposed the party’s health-care bills this year, said it’s “difficult to envision” how she could end up voting for this one.
‐ Rand Paul finally spelled out what it would take to win his vote. Unfortunately, it’s narrowing or dropping the part of the bill that converts Obamacare spending into block grants to the states. The other provisions are worth passing on their own if that’s the only way forward — they include spending caps for Medicaid, looser restrictions for health savings accounts, and state waivers from Obamacare regulations — but the block grants are the bill’s core.
‐ Ted Cruz said he opposes the bill in its current form and believes Mike Lee does as well. He said he’d suggested revisions that could reduce premiums, but that the latest draft of the bill doesn’t include them. (He didn’t elaborate as to the changes he wants. Earlier this year, Cruz and Lee collaborated on an amendment to an earlier bill that would allow insurers to sell plans that didn’t meet Obamacare regulations so long as they also sold at least one plan that did.)
‐ The bill’s authors said they’ll have the new version ready Monday. That’s about the time the Congressional Budget Office plans to release its preliminary evaluation of the last one. (There won’t be time for a full score of either before the Senate’s September 30 deadline for passing the bill.)
I’ve been skeptical from the beginning that this thing would pass. The “actually it has a real chance!” phase last week was exciting, but it’s over now. This is a looooong shot.
Monday-morning update: The bill actually ended up becoming public late last night. Politico reports it makes two major changes. First, it steers more money toward states whose senators are holding out; second, it makes it easier for states to opt out of Obamacare regulations, which Cruz and Lee should like.