By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The U.S. Senate will not be voting on a bill to repeal and replace Obamacare this week.

The vote is being delayed because Sen. John McCain had surgery to remove a blood clot near his left eye and has to stay in Arizona all week.

With McCain, the Republican health care bill is on hold.

Already, Republican Sens. Rand Paul and Susan Collins have said they are likely no votes. As many as a half dozen other Republicans are not yet committed to the bill.

Democrats are warning the GOP plan would hit states that expanded Medicaid the hardest, including Minnesota.

According to state officials, it’s estimated that Minnesota would lose $2 billion in medical assistance in the first 18 months, and, by 2030, the funding losses could top $30 billion.

Emily Piper, the commissioner of the Minnesota Department of Human Services, said Minnesotans would be “uniquely punished” under the GOP bill.

“We are only one of two states that has a basic health plan, called Minnesota Care, and about 85,000 people every month get insurance through that,” she said. “They are really the working poor in our state that don’t quite qualify for Medicaid, and both bills completely defund Minnesota Care — which is about 88 percent federally funded this year, a $500 million program.”

Republicans say they aren’t really cutting Medicaid, just changing it to a program that will provide fixed payments to states.

Republican leaders insist their program would also stabilize the volatile private insurance market that under Obamacare has resulted in skyrocketing premiums for some individuals who purchase private insurance.

As McCain recovers, Republican leaders will have more time to convince their own members to vote for the bill.


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