The past few months have been a whirlwind in Washington, especially when it comes to the Republican efforts to repeal President Obama’s signature healthcare reform. It’s nearly impossible to keep up when there’s a new healthcare plan every week (and sometimes every day). To make all our lives easier, we’ve broken down what the hell is going on and where Congress can go from here.
First, let’s quickly walk through how America’s lawmakers got to this point. In May, the House of Representatives approved a bill to repeal and replace much of Obamacare, the American Health Care Act (AHCA). But, when it went to the Senate, Republican senators said they would start from scratch.
The Republican leadership’s first try came in the form of the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), which closely resembled the House’s AHCA, but called for deeper long-term cuts to Medicaid. When it became clear the original Senate bill didn’t have enough votes to pass, Republicans made some revisions, including an amendment that would allow insurers to offer fewer benefits for cheaper if they sold at least one plan that complied with Obamacare regulations.
The revised BCRA still didn’t have enough votes, so Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell proposed simply repealing Obamacare with no replacement, which — again — didn’t seem to have enough support.
The Senate voted to open debate on repealing Obamacare on Tuesday, with Vice President Mike Pence acting as a tie-breaker. Opening debate leaves a lot of possibilities for what could actually happen.
Where are we now?
After opening debate on the topic, the Senate voted on the revised version of the BCRA, but it didn’t pass. So on Wednesday, senators voted on a repeal-only bill, similar to one that passed in a Republican-controlled Congress in 2015 but was vetoed by President Obama. This also failed.
What happens next?
Now, the Senate will continue debating. They have a total of 20 hours on the Senate floor and began Wednesday with 17 hours left. During that time, senators could vote on healthcare amendments to be added to the AHCA already approved by the House.
If Senate Republicans can come up with a healthcare plan that will garner a simple majority, they’ll then begin working with the House to come to a consensus.
What can you do?
If you want to get involved in the fight to protect Obamacare from repeal, women’s groups including Emily’s List, NARAL Pro-Choice America, and the National Women’s Law Center are organizing a nationwide “Our Lives on the Line” day of action surrounding healthcare on Saturday, July 29. The main event will be a march to the White House, with Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi in attendance, but there are events happening all over the country.
Here are the details of the main rallies taking place this weekend:
Washington, D.C.: Freedom Plaza (14th St. and Pennsylvania Ave. NW), 6:30 p.m. EST
Denver: Denver City Park (East Meadow), 10 a.m. MST
Los Angeles: First and North Broadway, 11 a.m. PST
Chicago: Federal Center and Plaza, 1 p.m. CST
Las Vegas: UNLV (4505 S. Maryland Pkwy.), 3 p.m. PST
Phoenix: Parsons’s Center for Health and Wellness – Southwest Center for HIV/AIDs (1101 N. Central Avenue), 11 a.m. MST
This story was originally published on July 26, 2017 at 3 p.m.
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