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Week ahead: GOP leaders hope to keep momentum for ObamaCare repeal

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellMitch McConnellSenate Dems: Use ObamaCare repeal delay to hold public hearings Poll: Half prefer ObamaCare over GOP health bill GOP rep: Tax reform will not happen without healthcare reform MORE (R-Ky.) was forced to delay a planned vote on the GOP ObamaCare repeal and replace bill initially planned for this week.

McConnell put off the vote after Sen. John McCainJohn McCainSenate Dems: Use ObamaCare repeal delay to hold public hearings Trump: ‘Most politicians would have gone to a meeting like the one Don jr attended’ Startup founders to Trump: Don’t rescind popular International Entrepreneur Rule MORE (R-Ariz.) on Saturday announced he would be out for the week as he recovers from a surgery. McCain’s absence left Republicans without the votes needed to advance the legislation.

Leaders could face a tough task keeping their momentum. Republicans already have little room for error as they try to get a repeal bill to President Trump’s desk.

A revised draft released Thursday didn’t make any changes to the bill’s Medicaid cuts and the rollback of ObamaCare’s expansion of the program, meaning several moderates still aren’t ready to support the bill. 

McConnell met with Republican Sens. Lisa MurkowskiLisa MurkowskiThis week: ObamaCare repeal faces latest setback in Senate Week ahead: GOP leaders hope to keep momentum for ObamaCare repeal Health Secretary Price: More people will be covered under GOP bill than are currently covered MORE (Ala.), Dean HellerDean HellerThis week: ObamaCare repeal faces latest setback in Senate Week ahead: GOP leaders hope to keep momentum for ObamaCare repeal Break-in reported at GOP Senator’s office MORE (Nev.), Shelley Moore CapitoShelley Moore CapitoThis week: ObamaCare repeal faces latest setback in Senate Week ahead: GOP leaders hope to keep momentum for ObamaCare repeal New Medicaid worry emerges for centrists MORE (W.Va.) and Rob PortmanRob PortmanThis week: ObamaCare repeal faces latest setback in Senate Week ahead: GOP leaders hope to keep momentum for ObamaCare repeal New Medicaid worry emerges for centrists MORE (Ohio) to discuss Medicaid Thursday afternoon but it’s unclear if they made any progress. 

Leaders don’t have a vote to spare on the motion to proceed after two Republicans, Sens. Susan CollinsSusan CollinsSenate Dems: Use ObamaCare repeal delay to hold public hearings GOP rep: Tax reform will not happen without healthcare reform GOP rep: Get rid of ‘stupid’ Senate rules MORE (Maine) and Rand PaulRand PaulSenate Dems: Use ObamaCare repeal delay to hold public hearings GOP rep: Tax reform will not happen without healthcare reform GOP rep: Get rid of ‘stupid’ Senate rules MORE (Ky.) said they will vote against it

The two on Sunday expressed pessimism that the bill would pass the upper chamber.

It’s unclear how McConnell will try to win over the moderates. If he makes any more concessions, he could lose the support of conservatives who came on board after the GOP leader added an amendment from Sen. Ted CruzTed CruzSenate Dems: Use ObamaCare repeal delay to hold public hearings This week: ObamaCare repeal faces latest setback in Senate Week ahead: House eyes trillion-dollar omnibus | Crunch time for Senate ObamaCare repeal bill | Senate moves ahead on Trump nominees MORE (Texas).

Any further changes would also need analyzed by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), potentially delaying the vote even further in the face of pressure from the White House. 

A CBO score on the revised bill was expected Monday, but will also be delayed.

Moderates have also been leery of Cruz’s amendment, which would allow insurers to sell plans that don’t comply with ObamaCare’s strict insurer requirements.

These plans would be cheaper but cover less and appeal to younger, healthy people who don’t use as much healthcare. 

A condition of offering these plans is insurers must also sell plans that meet ObamaCare requirements.

These plans would likely become much more expensive than they are now since less healthy people and more sick people will purchase them, experts and insurers say. 

The conclusion from the CBO could be the determining factor on how Republican holdouts vote and the delayed vote could give the scorekeeper more time to review the Cruz amendment.

Republicans are facing pressure from the White House to pass repeal before the August recess, which McConnell has already delayed for two weeks in the Senate. 

Trump said Friday in a tweet that Senate Republicans “must come through as they have promised” on repeal.

Lawmakers will also be busy working on spending bills in the coming week.

The House Appropriations Committee on Wednesday will mark up the fiscal 2018 Health and Human Services Budget, which includes a  $1.1 billion funding bump for the National Institutes of Health (NIH.)

Also on Capitol Hill, the House Energy and Commerce Committee will hold a hearing called “Examining Bipartisan Legislation to improve the Medicare Program” Thursday at 10 a.m.

Recent stories: 

RNC chairwoman: Voters will be ‘very upset’ if GOP health bill doesn’t pass

Poll: Public opposition to Senate health bill increases

Kasich opposes revised Senate ObamaCare repeal bill

Health groups: Revised GOP health bill not an improvement

Senate healthcare bill includes key provision for Alaska

Key Nevada senator undecided on new ObamaCare repeal bill

Senate GOP may not use CBO to score Cruz amendment

Graham: ‘ObamaCare was designed to collapse’

Pence pitches governors on ObamaCare repeal bill

Trump touts GOP healthcare bill in weekly address

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