If you think the Obamacare repeal is dead in the Senate, think again

The Observer editorial board

Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan celebrate passage of the health care bill Thursday at the White House.
Donald Trump and House Speaker Paul Ryan celebrate passage of the health care bill Thursday at the White House. AP

If there’s a lesson to be reminded of this week as the American Health Care Act moves to the U.S. Senate, it’s this: Republicans really want to vote yes to repeal Obamacare.

That might seem self-evident, as it’s exactly what Republicans have been saying the past six years. But in passing the ACHA on Thursday, House Republicans showed just how far they’re willing to go to.

Americans, including Republicans, overwhelmingly don’t like the provisions in the bill lawmakers finally passed. They especially don’t like that it would leave millions uninsured, or that it could cause premiums to spike for people with pre-existing conditions. Yet enough House Republicans calculated that the political vulnerability of saying yes to the ACHA was preferable to the political consequences of saying no to Obamacare repeal.

The Senate may be more moderate and more cautious on health care reform, but Republicans in the upper chamber will also be looking for reasons to vote aye. The best illustration of that might be found in North Carolina.

Ours is a state that’s more purple than red, yet neither of our senators is on lists of Republicans who might say no to Obamacare repeal. In fact, it’s a fairly sure bet that Sen. Richard Burr, who last year said “Obamacare is imploding,” will give a nod to whatever repeal Senate Republicans settle on. Same for Sen. Thom Tillis, who talks a good game about being a moderate but reliably lands with the far right in his party on big issues.

Still, there are an estimated 1.6 million people with pre-existing conditions in our state, and many could pay thousands of dollars more in premiums, regardless of whether they are on the Obamacare exchanges or not. We urge both senators to remember those North Carolinians as they consider AHCA provisions that allows insurers to get waivers from states on Obamacare mandates. We also urge North Carolinians to remember who’s about to put those Obamacare benefits in jeopardy.

The House on Thursday passed a new version of a health care bill to replace the Affordable Care Act after the first one failed to get enough Republican support in March. The bill still needs to pass the Senate before becoming law.