The Senate agreed to debate a health care bill. Now what?

Seal of the United States Senate

Seal of the United States Senate

The vote comes on the second day of a 20-hour Senate debate on health care as Republican leaders scramble to win enough votes from their own members to pass something to replace the Affordable Care Act. Where that debate will end, though, is still anyone's guess.

Defunding Planned Parenthood could be challenged by Senate Democrats, who could argue such a step doesn't meet the strict guidelines for reconciliation - the fast-track budget maneuver Republicans are using to repeal ObamaCare because it avoids a Democratic filibuster.

The Senate will now continue voting on measures from both parties, with the Republican ones mostly geared toward scrapping individual aspects of Obamacare one by one - still in pursuit of the goal Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., laid out Wednesday morning. This measure also failed.

"Skinny repeal is equal to full's a Trojan horse", Schumer said. The individual and employer mandates would be repealed, the Medicaid expansion and the health care subsidies would be ended, and numerous law's taxes would be rolled back.

The individual mandate requires almost all Americans to obtain health insurance or pay a penalty, and the employer mandate requires larger companies to provide affordable coverage to their full-time workers.

For years, Republicans have rallied their base around the idea that the government shouldn't force its citizens to pay for health care if they don't want it. Those include the governors of Nevada and OH, which are represented by GOP health-care swing votes in the Senate: Dean Heller and Rob Portman, respectively. It also eliminates the mandate that individuals have health insurance and for employers to offer it.

Senator Sasse says he is for repeal and is for replace. Economic experts advise it would bring the health care system to an "almost complete collapse".

"Action is needed to address problems in the individual insurance market, but the so-called "skinny" bill is a toxic prescription that would make matters worse", AMA president Dr. David Barbe said in a statement.

At least a dozen GOP senators have said they oppose or are critical of McConnell's proposed repeal-and-replace legislation.

As he received a barrage of questions from reporters about the Senate's apparent strategy of passing something that it doesn't ultimately want the House to pass, Cornyn pushed back with this quip: "I guess we ought to go back to Schoolhouse Rock".

Weird development: The Senate will vote Thursday on a "Medicare for all" amendment introduced by a Republican. But here's who didn't vote for it that voted for it the first time: Lamar Alexander of Tennessee, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, Dean Heller of Nevada, and Senator John McCain, Senator Lisa Murkowski, and Senator Rob Portman of Ohio.

"As this vote shows, inaction is not an option, and now the legislative process can move forward as meant to produce a bill that lowers costs and increases options for all Americans".

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