South Carolina’s senior U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham said the health care legislation he cosponsored needs to be put up for a vote, even if it ends up failing.
Graham told The Charleston Post and Courier he does not think it possible for the Republican Party to not try whatever it can to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, which Republicans often call “Obamacare.” Graham made the comments after speaking to business leaders in Greenville on Thursday.
Republicans have until Sept. 30 to pass what’s known as the “Graham-Cassidy” legislation without needing any Democrat votes. Given their narrow majority in the Senate, the GOP cannot lose more than two senators’ support without dooming the bill. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said this week that he intends to put the legislation up for a vote next week, leaving time to withdraw the bill if it appears to lack the votes.
Graham’s cosponsor is U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy, R-La. He told the newspaper he is confident the bill is going to have a vote. He said the GOP needs the same passion to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act as Democrats had when they passed it.
South Carolina’s other senator, fellow Republican U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, publicly backed the Graham-Cassidy proposal on Wednesday.
The measure would revamp Medicaid by converting it into a block grant system for states, rather than its current reimbursement match model. It would also get rid of the expanded eligibility requirements included in the Affordable Care Act. Graham insists the block grants would give states more flexibility to craft their own programs. Critics say many states could get rid of the system’s current protections on those with preexisting conditions and offer coverage to fewer recipients.