WASHINGTON, June 22 (Reuters) - U.S. Senate Republicans offered a bill on Thursday to overhaul Obamacare, the next phase in the party’s long war against the 2010 law enacted by then-Democratic President Barack Obama.
The legislation met a wall of opposition from Democrats and initial skepticism among some Republicans, leaving Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell a narrow path to passage.
The bill would roll back an expansion of the Medicaid health program for the poor and disabled in three years, cut its federal funding beginning in 2025, restructure Obamacare’s tax credits for low-income Americans, and repeal several taxes.
To pass the bill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can only afford to lose two Republican votes. The Senate is comprised of 52 Republicans, 46 Democrats and two independents who caucus with the Democrats (In the event of a deadlocked vote, Republican Vice President can vote to break the tie.)
Several Republicans on Thursday expressed reservations or opposition to the bill:
Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah said in a joint statement:
“We are not ready to vote for this bill. ... There are provisions in this draft that represent an improvement to our current health care system, but it does not appear this draft as written will accomplish the most important promise that we made to Americans: to repeal Obamacare and lower their health care costs.” The four said they were open to negotiation.
Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia: “I will review the draft legislation released this morning ... to evaluate whether it provides access to affordable health care for West Virginians.”
Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, in comments to reporters: “I‘m undecided. I have to read the text.”
Lamar Alexander of Tennessee: “I‘m going to stay focused on it next week as the bill goes to the Senate floor ... and my focus will be on how it affects Tennesseans.”
Marco Rubio of Florida said he will “decide how to vote on health care on the basis of how it impacts Florida.”
Dean Heller of Nevada said he had “serious concerns” about the bill’s impact on Medicaid in his state.
Susan Collins of Maine said it was “too soon” to judge the bill and she has some concerns about cuts to Medicaid after 2025 and defunding of Planner Parenthood.
Reporting by Yasmeen Abutaleb; Additional reporting by Susan Cornwell and Rick Cowan; Editing by Kevin Drawbaugh and Jonathan Oatis