Senate Republicans are close to a bill that could bring a repeal of the Affordable Care Act’s individual mandate and the expansion of Medicaid.
But they’re struggling to craft the bill that would win enough support to advance to a final vote.
That is where GOP Sens.
Tom Cotton and Bill Cassidy come in.
The two Republican senators from Arkansas, who are running for reelection next year, are among a handful of Republicans who say they would vote against the bill if it doesn’t include a repeal.
The House is expected to vote on a repeal measure later this week, which would then go to the Senate, where it could be amended or scrapped in a manner that could affect how the legislation is voted on.
Cotton and Cassidy say they’re willing to vote to repeal, but that they’re not prepared to vote for one that doesn’t repeal.
“We’ve got a lot of flexibility to say, ‘We’re willing and able to do something,'” Cotton said.
Cassidy said he would vote for a bill to repeal the mandate if it included an expansion of the Medicaid program.
“I think the mandate is a good thing,” Cassidy said.
“If the mandate goes away, that would be a win for us.”
Cotton and his colleagues are working with Republican Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, who is a leading voice for repealing the mandate.
In an interview Thursday, Murkowski said she supports the repeal measure but doesn’t think it will have enough support in the chamber to advance.
She also said she wants the Senate to vote soon on a bill allowing insurers to continue to offer coverage even if states cut Medicaid funding.
But she said that is not in the bill and that she won’t vote for it.
Cotton said he has asked Murkowski to support his bill to remove the mandate, which he says will help people buy health insurance on the individual market.
Cotton, who served as an adviser to President Donald Trump on health care, said he is confident that Murkowski and other Republicans will vote to advance the measure.
“There is a strong, broad consensus on this,” he said.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., said Friday that the Senate would vote on Cassidy’s bill to replace the individual mandate at the same time as it votes on the Senate bill to end the Medicaid expansion.
“The House will vote on that bill tomorrow.
I don’t know what the House will do, but I do know what it will do,” McConnell said.
Cotton also said he’s confident the House and Senate will approve Cassidy’s proposal to repeal part of the mandate later this month.
“He’s going to make a good case,” Cotton said of Cassidy.
“And I think there’s a lot going on.
I’m confident we’re going to get a bill out in the next couple of days that’s good.”