Many Republican senators are unhappy about the AHCA draft

A few lawmakers are in full support of the bill. Others think it needs a little work. Some have deep concerns.

Credit: AP Photo
Credit: AP Photo

The “discussion draft” of the GOP’s American Health Care Act, released earlier today, received neutral-to-negative responses from GOP moderates and conservatives alike.

Senators Ron Johnson (R-WI), Mike Lee (R-UT), and Rand Paul (R-KY), posted a joint statement shortly after the bill’s release indicating that they weren’t ready to support the bill as written. “[It] does not appear this draft as written will accomplish the most important promise that we made to Americans: to repeal Obamacare and lower their healthcare costs,” reads the statement in part. Johnson said he was “not a ‘yes’” on the bill.

Cruz released a lengthier statement on his own website immediately afterward, saying of the bill, “[There] are components that give me encouragement and there are also components that are a cause for deep concern.” Cruz’s concerns included the bill not going far enough to repeal the Affordable Care Act, not lowering premiums, and not giving Medicaid enough “flexibility.” He added later that the bill would need “significant changes” before passing the Senate.

He seems to believe the bill can be fixed, however, as he handed out pamphlets on how it could “get to ‘yes’” during a Senate lunch.

Moderate senators also withheld their support. Susan Collins (R-ME) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) took issue with the bill, telling reporters that they both disagreed with sections of it that would defund Planned Parenthood. Rob Portman (R-OH) and Dean Heller (R-NV) both said they had “concerns” about the policies presented in the draft. “If the final legislation is good for Ohio, I will support it,” said Portman in a statement released Thursday. “If not, I will oppose it.”

Some GOP senators refrained from giving an opinion, only making vague condemnations of the ACA and suggesting that they would review the bill closely. Chuck Grassley (R-IA) posted a statement on his website where he denounced the ACA without saying anything about the AHCA draft, other than that he would be “studying it” and “ looking at the ways it would help Iowans affected by Obamacare’s failures.” Others who took a similar stance included John McCain (R-AZ), Marco Rubio (R-FL), Thom Tillis (R-NC), and Shelley Capito (R-WV), who said in a press release that she would examine the bill to see “whether it provides access to affordable health care for West Virginians, including those on the Medicaid expansion and those struggling with drug addiction.” (Odds are, it doesn’t.)

Despite all this trepidation, some Republican senators gave their outspoken support for the bill. Mitch McConnell (R-KY) spent the afternoon apparently trying to get the hashtag #BetterCare trending in reference to the bill. Sen. Pat Roberts (R-KS) called it “the best possible bill under very difficult circumstances.” Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN) released a statement with a long, detailed list of bullet points emphasizing what he saw as the “benefits for Tennesseans” in the bill, although he did also pledge to “continue to review” the draft.

Outside of Congress, moderate Republicans gave the bill harsher reviews than their Senate compatriots. Governor John Kasich (R-OH) said he had “deep concerns” about the bill and its minimal coverage. He added, “sustainable solutions to the many complex problems facing our health care system will never be solved with a one-party approach that’s developed behind closed doors, without public discussion and input.” Governor Charlie Baker (R-MA) also expressed his concerns.

While Republicans have mixed opinions on the bill, Democrats don’t: not a single Democratic senator supports it.

Annabel Thompson is an intern with ThinkProgress.