PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — As the US Senate prepares to vote next week on the Graham-Cassidy bill — that is, the latest version of the GOP plan to repeal Obamacare — Oregon Senators Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley met with patients and providers in Portland.
Earlier this week, Merkley called the Graham-Cassidy bill the “worst plan yet.”
Literally as Oregon’s United States senators were listening to people at Laurelhurst Village, Arizona Sen. John McCain announced he won’t vote for the Republican bill repealing the Obama health care law.
Both Wyden and Merkley said they were happy to see McCain’s public comments but said they still have a lot of work to do. There are still not enough votes to defeat the Graham-Cassidy bill.
Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has said he’ll oppose the bill and Maine Sen. Susan Collins says she’s leaning against it. Republicans control the Senate 52-48. All Democrats oppose the bill so three GOP “no” votes would doom it.
Merkley and Wyden will spend this weekend in Oregon gathering health care stories from people and how Oregonians desperately need the federal dollars to pay for care that costs far more than they can afford.
“Everything we have learned so far in this health care debate is that Oregon is going to be in the eye of ths storm,” Wyden said.
“My suggestion to our Republican friends who want to put health care on a budget,” Merkley said, “is to instead put tax deductions and tax credits for the wealthiest Americans on a budget.”
The senators pointed out 400,000 Oregonians would lose their insurance under the Graham-Cassidy bill. If it passes it would repeal the Medicaid expansion that’s part of the Affordable Care Act.
A vote is expected Wednesday in the US Senate.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.