Why Didn’t McCain Vote for the Graham-Cassidy Healthcare Bill?

“I cannot in good conscious vote for the Graham-Cassidy healthcare proposal,” Senator McCain’s office said in a statement they released to the media back in September 2017 as Republicans were trying their hardest to repeal Obamacare. The bill was named after Republican Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana.

The bill sought to “eliminate major sections of the health care law, including its subsidized insurance coverage and Medicaid expansion,” The Politico reported. States would be given “block grants,” which they could use how they wish.

McCain was one of four Republican senators who were undecided. His vote was crucial as it would only take two Republican senators backing out for the bill to die.

McCain wasn’t a fan of how quickly the bill was being pushed through the Senate in order to meet a September 30 deadline. He did not want to vote for a bill without enough knowledge on how it would affect premiums or how many backdoor costs their might be.

“I would consider supporting legislation similar to that offered by my friends Senators Graham and Cassidy were it the product of extensive hearings, debate and amendment. But that has not been the case,” said McCain.

Senator Graham didn’t seem to take it personally, tweeting:

Two months prior, McCain was the deciding vote that stopped a broader bill of Obamacare repeal. When criticized by his colleagues, he released this statement:

As I have repeatedly stressed, health care reform legislation ought to be the product of regular order in the Senate. Committees of jurisdiction should mark up legislation with input from all committee members, and send their bill to the floor for debate and amendment. That is the only way we might achieve bipartisan consensus on lasting reform, without which a policy that affects one-fifth of our economy and every single American family will be subject to reversal with every change of administration and congressional majority.

We should not be content to pass health care legislation on a party-line basis, as Democrats did when they rammed Obamacare through Congress in 2009. If we do so, our success could be as short-lived as theirs when the political winds shift, as they regularly do. The issue is too important, and too many lives are at risk, for us to leave the American people guessing from one election to the next whether and how they will acquire health insurance. A bill of this impact requires a bipartisan approach.

I hope that in the months ahead, we can join with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to arrive at a compromise solution that is acceptable to most of us, and serves the interests of Americans as best we can.

To recap: McCain wanted Republicans to introduce a healthcare bill in a traditional way; he wanted it debated and amended and he wanted it to encourage bipartisan solutions. His biggest problem was with approach, not necessarily policy.

Read McCain’s full statement here.

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