John McCain opposes Graham-Cassidy, in possible death blow to Obamacare repeal

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) announced Friday he would oppose the latest Obamacare repeal bill, a potential death blow to the GOP’s last hope of undoing much of the 2010 health care law.

McCain said in a statement he “cannot in good conscience” support the bill from Sens. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA), which would turn much of Obamacare’s funding into a block grant for the states starting in 2020.

The Arizona senator said, much as did when he voted down Obamacare repeal in late July, that Republicans should instead work with Democrats on a health care bill and that any legislation should go through the regular order of committee hearings and markups.

“I believe we could do better working together, Republicans and Democrats, and have not yet really tried,” McCain said. “Nor can I support it without knowing how much it will cost, how it will effect insurance premiums, and how many people will be helped or hurt by it.”

McCain’s vote was crucial to killing the last GOP attempt to repeal Obamacare in late July. Now his opposition could spell doom for Graham-Cassidy, which outside estimates have projected would lead to 21 million fewer Americans having health coverage versus Obamacare. Fifty of the 52 Senate Republicans must support any repeal plan for it to pass the Senate, and the legislation appears to be short.

Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) has consistently said he opposes the plan, arguing that it keeps too much of Obamacare for his support. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) has not taken a definitive position, but she has raised concerns about how the bill affects people with preexisting conditions and its Medicaid cuts. She is widely considered a “no” vote.

There are a few others, most notably Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), who haven’t yet said whether they support or oppose the bill, but whose support is thought to be in doubt.

McCain’s opposition comes with the clock ticking down for Senate Republicans to repeal Obamacare. The special privileges they are using to pass a bill with only 51 votes and avoid a Democratic filibuster expire on September 30. After that, they would need to start the process over by passing a budget resolution.

Senate leaders had said that they intended to bring Graham-Cassidy up for a vote next week, though it’s not clear if they would still hold the vote knowing that the bill would fail.

Here is McCain’s statement in full:

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