Obamacare replacement bill faces tougher test in Senate

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Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) has introduced a bill that gives states an option over Obamacare repeal.
Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) has introduced a bill that gives states an option over Obamacare repeal.

While House Republican leaders were trying to tie up loose ends to get their proposal for repealing and replacing Obamacare across the finish line, Senators on both sides of the aisle were predicting a tougher time getting a similar bill to pass in their chamber.

Shortly before the House unveiled its Obamacare repeal bill, four Republican senators said they couldn't support it, which would torpedo any hope for passage in the Senate. Each is from a state that expanded Medicaid under Obamacare.

“We are concerned that any poorly implemented or poorly timed change in the current funding structure in Medicaid could result in a reduction in access to life-saving healthcare services,” wrote Sens. Cory Gardner (CO), Shelley Moore Capito (WV), Rob Portman (OH) and Lisa Murkowski (AK) in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY).

Senate Republicans were further split among factions that want more forceful repeal of Obamacare regulations and others who disagree with elements of the broader bill, such as elimination of funding for Planned Parenthood.

Some Senators said their version of a reform bill would move slower through the committee process compared to the House, where the GOP advanced its bill before hearing projections from the Congressional Budget Office.