WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - US Republican Senator John McCain, who has been recuperating in Arizona after being diagnosed with brain cancer, will return to Washington for a vote on healthcare reform on Tuesday, his office said in a statement on Monday.
"Senator McCain looks forward to returning to the United States Senate tomorrow to continue working on important legislation, including healthcare reform, the National Defense Authorization Act, and new sanctions on Russia, Iran and North Korea," the statement said.
US President Donald Trump made a last-ditch plea to US Senate Republicans on Monday to “do the right thing” and fulfil seven years of campaign promises to repeal and replace former President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law.
Republicans have been under heavy political pressure to make good on their longstanding campaign promises to gut the 2010 law, which they view as a government intrusion in the healthcare market.
Uncertainty over the future of healthcare has left health insurance companies and US states as well as hospitals and doctors unclear about future funding and coverage. Public opinion polls also show Americans worried about potential changes to the healthcare system.
The Senate will vote on Tuesday on whether to open debate on an overhaul of the law, with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell promising an open amendment process and a “robust” debate.
Even as it remained unclear on Monday whether Mr McConnell had enough votes in the Senate to open debate, he said the vote would take place regardless. “I know many of us have waited years for this moment to finally arrive. And, at long last, it finally has. I would urge every colleague to join me,” he said.
Moderate Senator Susan Collins, who has vocally opposed Mr McConnell’s efforts so far, said on Monday she would vote “no” on a motion to proceed.
Republicans hold a 52-48 majority in the 100-member Senate. With Democrats united in opposition, Mr McConnell can afford to lose only two Republican votes.
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office has estimated the Senate’s replacement Bill could lead to as many as 22 million fewer Americans being insured.
A plan to repeal Obamacare without replacing it could cost 32 million Americans their health insurance by 2026, CBO estimated. At the same time, premiums on individual insurance plans would rise 25 per cent next year and double by 2026 if Obamacare is repealed, CBO said.