Senate Democrats on Monday urged Republican leaders to use the extra time provided from a delayed vote on the GOP healthcare bill to hold public hearings on the legislation, which would repeal and replace portions of Obamacare.
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and other Democratic leaders, including Sens. Patty Murray, D-Wash., and Ron Wyden, D-Ore., sent a letter to Republican leaders formally requesting that they use the delay, expected to last a week, to bring in experts and medical groups that represent hospitals, health insurance companies and doctors.
"This will allow members to hear unfiltered and unbiased analysis of how the bill will affect their states and the health and financial security of the constituents they represent, including the impact of Medicaid cuts to vulnerable populations like children, people with disabilities, and people with pre-existing conditions," the senators wrote.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., announced Saturday that the vote would be delayed after Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said he would be spending a week in Arizona to recover from a procedure in which a blood clot was removed above his left eye. Two Republicans, Sens. Susan Collins of Maine and Rand Paul of Kentucky, already have come out against the bill, so without McCain it does not have enough support for passage. Republicans expected to vote on the bill this week, but they are still waiting for a score from the Congressional Budget Office, which will project how much the legislation would cost and how many people could become uninsured if it were to become law.
Several groups, including the American Hospital Association, the American Medical Association and America's Health Insurance Plans, have released statements saying they are opposed to the bill or have concerns with specific provisions.
Democrats also asked Republicans not to move forward with the bill until they see a CBO score, amid reports that they may have the bill, or parts of it, instead scored by an agency within the Department of Health and Human Services.