WASHINGTON (Reuters)—The latest Republican effort to repeal former U.S. President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law faced possible defeat this week as several senators in the party voiced concerns about the bill under consideration.
The U.S. Senate is up against a Saturday deadline for deciding the fate of the 2010 Affordable Care Act, popularly known as Obamacare, because of an expiring rule that lets the Republican healthcare legislation pass with just a simple 51-vote majority, instead of the 60-vote threshold needed for most measures.
Republicans, who control the Senate 52-48, were finding it difficult even to clear that lower hurdle.
The Senate Finance Committee is scheduled to hold a hearing on Monday in an attempt to build support for the bill and to tamp down Democratic criticisms the measure has not been thoroughly vetted.
Republican senators leading the effort plan to release a revised version of their bill that would send more money to Alaska and Maine, the states of two holdout senators, The Washington Post reported late on Sunday.
For seven years, Republicans have hammered Obamacare as an unwarranted and overly expensive government intrusion into American healthcare. Republican President Donald Trump made repealing Obamacare one of his top campaign promises in 2016. Democrats have fiercely defended it, saying it has extended health insurance to millions.
The most previous attempt to repeal Obamacare fell one vote short in July, in a humiliating setback for Trump and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).
Opposition grew on Sunday to the plan by Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-La.) that could be up for a vote on the Senate floor this week.
It would take federal money spent on the Medicaid program for the poor and disabled, as well as subsidies to help Americans buy private insurance, and divvy it up to the states in block grants. Advocates say that would give states more discretion to manage their own healthcare schemes.
Opponents fear that millions would lose healthcare, including some with pre-existing medical conditions.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX), speaking at an event in his home state of Texas, warned on Sunday that Trump and McConnell could not count on his vote. Cruz has pushed for greater government cost savings in healthcare.
Moderate Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine, interviewed on CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday, said it was difficult for her to “envision a scenario where I would end up voting for this bill.”