Mon, Jul 17, 2017 - Page 5 News List

Vote on healthcare bill delayed over McCain’s surgery

AFP, WASHINGTON

The US Senate will “defer” its work on repealing and replacing Obamacare as Senator John McCain recovers from surgery to remove a blood clot above his eye, the chamber’s Republican leader announced late on Saturday.

The healthcare reform bill, a central campaign pledge by US President Donald Trump and many of his fellow Republicans, has already neared collapse, with two Republicans publicly opposing it. It would likely fail without McCain’s vote.

“There are few people tougher than my friend John McCain, and I know he’ll be back with us soon,” Republican Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said in a statement wishing the senior lawmaker well.

“While John is recovering, the Senate will continue our work on legislative items and nominations, and will defer consideration of the Better Care Act,” he said.

He did not say when he would aim to return to the healthcare bill.

The Mayo Clinic, which performed the surgery on Friday in Phoenix, said the 5cm blood clot was “successfully removed” from above his left eye during a “minimally invasive” craniotomy with an eyebrow incision.

McCain’s office said the lawmaker, “in good spirits and recovering comfortably at home with his family,” would recover in Arizona through next week.

Achieving Trump’s goal to end former US president Barack Obama’s 2010 sweeping reforms has been elusive in the first six months of the new administration.

Several Republicans in the party’s conservative and moderate wings have expressed deep concerns over the latest draft unveiled on Thursday.

In addition to two announced “no” votes from US senators Susan Collins and Rand Paul, there were at least a half-dozen other Republican senators who were withholding support from or expressing reservations.

Last month McConnell had to cancel a vote on a previous version of the legislation as Republican opposition left its defeat assured.

Some fear that repealing the Affordable Care Act could adversely impact millions of Americans by effectively forcing them off of Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor and the disabled, or making health costs soar for people with pre-existing conditions.

With Democrats united in opposition, McConnell needs support from at least 50 out of 52 Republicans to pass the measure in the 100-member chamber. In the event of a 50-50 split, Vice President Mike Pence would cast the tie-breaking vote.

Democrats are unanimously opposed to the bill as are the nation’s major medical groups and insurers.

Additional reporting by AP

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