Legislative Update for Week Ending July 28, 2017

Legislative Update for Week Ending July 28, 2017

This week, lawmakers in the Senate held several failed votes on bills that would have repealed and replaced parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In addition, two key bills that would improve Social Security benefits gained support in the House.

Senate Fails to Advance Health Reform Legislation

This week, lawmakers in the Senate voted on three health reform bills that would have repealed and replaced parts of the ACA if enacted. All three of the bills – the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), the Obamacare Repeal and Reconciliation Act (ORRA), and the Health Care Freedom Act better known as the “skinny repeal” bill – failed to win passage on the Senate floor.

The BCRA, the “repeal-and-replace” bill that lawmakers have been working on for several weeks, was defeated on Tuesday night with a vote of 43 – 57. The ORRA, the “repeal-and-delay” bill, was defeated with a vote of 45 – 55 on Wednesday afternoon. And the “skinny repeal” bill – which would have repealed a few of the ACA’s most controversial provisions – was defeated early Friday morning with a vote of 49 – 51, just two hours after the text of the bill was revealed. The critical “no” votes came from three Republican Senators: Susan Collins (ME), Lisa Murkowski (AK), and John McCain (AZ).

In a statement that was released after the final vote, Senator McCain said: “We must now return to the correct way of legislating and send the bill back to committee, hold hearings, receive input from both sides of the aisle, heed the recommendations of the nation’s governors, and produce a bill that finally delivers affordable health care for the American people. We must do the hard work our citizens expect of us and deserve.” In addition, Senator Murkowski told reporters: “We cannot let the public believe that we are done with health care. We’re just beginning.”

It remains to be seen whether Republicans in the Senate will begin working with Democrats on legislation that would stabilize the health insurance markets, or whether they will shift their focus to other legislative priorities. Following the failed vote early Friday morning, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) told his colleagues: “I regret that our efforts were simply not enough … It’s time to move on.”

In the weeks ahead, TSCL will continue to monitor the health reform discussions in the Senate and we will post updates here in the Legislative News section of our website. In the meantime, we encourage our members and supporters to contact those in the Senate who voted against the “skinny repeal” bill to express their gratitude. Senators Collins, Murkowski, and McCain took a stand against legislation that would have jeopardized the health and financial security of millions of older Americans, and TSCL appreciates their leadership on this important issue. For contact information, click HERE.

Key Social Security Bills Gain Support in House

This week, one new cosponsor – Congressman Gregorio Kilili Camacho Sablan (MP) – signed on to the Social Security 2100 Act (H.R. 1902), bringing the total up to 163. If signed into law, it would extend the solvency of the Social Security trust funds responsibly, without cutting benefits for current or future retirees. The bill currently has more cosponsors than any other comprehensive Social Security reform bill to date, and we hope lawmakers in Congress will consider it seriously in the months ahead.

In addition, one new cosponsor – Rep. Steve Cohen (TN-9) – signed on to the bipartisan CPI for Seniors Act (H.R. 2016). The cosponsor total is now at three in the House. If adopted, it would mandate the monthly formulation and publication of a consumer price index specifically for seniors. Currently, Social Security cost-of-living adjustments (COLAs) are based on the inflation experienced by young, urban workers, but H.R. 2016 would establish a more accurate index for beneficiaries.

TSCL enthusiastically supports H.R. 1902 and H.R. 2016, and we were pleased to see support grow for them this week. For more information on the status of the bills, visit the Bill Tracking section of our website.