Donald Trump made repealing the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, a central part of his winning campaign for president. Congressional Republicans have been working for years to repeal the law. Will 2017 be the year that Obamacare goes away?
In January, the Senate laid the groundwork for repeal legislation to proceed. It adopted a budget resolution for the U.S. Congress that makes it easier for Obamacare repeal legislation to proceed through the Senate. During consideration of this resolution, Democrats offered numerous amendments that, if adopted, would have effectively prevented Obamacare from being repealed. Senator Rand Paul also offered an amendment that would have capped federal spending, leading to a balanced budget by 2024.
These amendments all failed. It is doubtful the sponsors thought they would pass. Instead, they were likely offered as a way of putting senators on the record as opposing or supporting certain aspects of the Affordable Care Act. Here are some of the key votes that occurred during this early skirmish over Obamacare:
U.S. Senate Concurrent Resolution 3, Move forward with Obamacare repeal: Passed 51 to 48 in the U.S. Senate on January 12, 2017
To approve a Senate budget that allows committees to prepare legislation to repeal portions of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. Under this resolution, votes to repeal certain parts of Obamacare could occur by majority vote instead of being subject to a filibuster which would have to be overcome by 60 votes.
U.S. Senate Concurrent Resolution 3, Kaine amendment to stop Obamacare repeal: Failed 48 to 52 in the U.S. Senate on January 5, 2017
To prevent the Senate from considering legislation to eliminate the Affordable Care Act's insurance subsides, its Medicaid enrollment expansion and more. This amendment would have changed Senate rules to effectively halt consideration of legislation to repeal or modify the Affordable Care Act using a budget reconciliation process that does not require a three-fifths majority to end debate and pass the bill.
U.S. Senate Concurrent Resolution 3, Sanders amendment to prevent changes to entitlement programs: Failed 49 to 49 in the U.S. Senate on January 10, 2017
To prohibit the Senate from considering legislation that would reduce Social Security benefits, privatize Social Security, increase the Social Security retirement age, or reduce Medicare and Medicaid benefits.
U.S. Senate Concurrent Resolution 3, Paul amendment to balance the budget: Failed 14 to 83 in the U.S. Senate on January 9, 2017
To amend a Senate budget resolution by adding provisions intended to generate a balanced federal budget by 2024 by capping federal spending. The amendment would also allow for the repeal of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, and its replacement simultaneously.
U.S. Senate Concurrent Resolution 3, Klobuchar amendment to allow re-importing Canadian drugs: Failed 46 to 52 in the U.S. Senate on January 11, 2017
An amendment to the Senate budget bill that would allow legislation to permit pharmacists, wholesalers, or Americans with a valid prescription to buy drugs in Canada and bring them into the United States.
U.S. Senate Concurrent Resolution 3, Menendez amendment to prevent Medicaid funding cuts: Failed 48 to 50 in the U.S. Senate on January 11, 2017
To prohibit the Senate from considering legislation that would reduce Medicaid funding for states that expanded their Medicaid programs in compliance with the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare. This expansion was not mandatory for states. The federal government covered over 90% of the share of enrolling new Medicaid recipients who were able-bodied and made more than 138% of the federal poverty level. The federal government generally covers 43% of the cost of traditional Medicaid enrollees.
U.S. Senate Concurrent Resolution 3, Gillibrand amendment to prevent repeal of Obamacare contraceptive mandate: Failed 49 to 49 in the U.S. Senate on January 12, 2017
To prevent the Senate from considering legislation that would end the mandate in the Affordable Care Act that requires insurance coverage of reproductive health services such as contraception, birth control, or maternity care.