Millions of older Americans can breathe a sigh of relief that, for now, the health care coverage they rely on will not be put at risk.
In one of the most dramatic endings to a debate on the Senate floor, Republican Sen. John McCain cast the deciding vote early Friday to derail an effort by Senate leaders to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). In the end, it was McCain of Arizona and Republican Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska who joined 46 Democrats and 2 Independents in opposing a watered-down version of repeal.
Senate leaders had hoped that measure — dubbed the “skinny” repeal bill — would have been the basis for negotiating a final bill with the House of Representatives, which passed its own measure in May.
AARP joined with other consumer advocates as well as hospitals, doctors, nurses and other health care organizations to vigorously oppose proposals that were considered over the past week. AARP will continue to fight against any measure that increases costs and weakens protections for older Americans.
“We thank Senators Collins, McCain and Murkowski, as well as Senate Democrats and Independents, who heard the voices of all those who called, emailed, rallied and wrote to object to this seriously flawed bill,” said AARP Executive Vice President Nancy LeaMond. “We reiterate our willingness to work with Congress and this administration in a bipartisan way to strengthen our health care system, lower costs and improve care.”
What comes next on the legislative front is still an open question. After the vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said it was time to “move on.” But lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have said some changes to the ACA are necessary to shore up health insurance markets and bring down health care costs.