Healthcare Showdown

It’s regressive in the extreme that there has to be a fight to keep a medicore healthcare system instead of a terrible one.

On Tuesday night, nine Republicans and all Democrats joined together to crush the Better Care Reconciliation Act — McConnell’s replacement measure — by a vote of 57-43.

Then on Wednesday afternoon, a bill that had passed in 2015 to repeal most of the Affordable Care Act outright was also defeated 55-45, this time with seven Republicans defecting.

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Tuesday’s drama was heightened by the return of an ailing Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the former Republican presidential candidate who was flown in on a private jet to cast a needed vote. McCain was greeted by a standing ovation from his colleagues on both sides of the aisle before he grinned and flashed two thumbs up, voting to move forward on a bill the Congressional Budget Office says would cost millions of people their health insurance.

He was then given special dispensation to address his colleagues, and delivered an Aaron Sorkin-esque speech about the decline of compromise, the rise of partisanship, and the need to overcome it. The distance between his speech and the vote he had just cast could hardly have been greater, but he attempted to fill it with a promise that the process he was voting to move forward today would fail, and he was very unlikely to vote for the end product. (He voted for McConnell’s replacement Tuesday, then voted against full repeal on Wednesday. He then cast a vote against a Democratic measure that would have sent the bill to committee for hearings, precisely the thing he had demanded.)

McCain will stay for just a few days in Washington, he said, before he’ll return to Arizona to begin treatment for a type of brain cancer that is fatal in an overwhelming number of cases, and took the life of his friend and colleague Sen. Ted Kennedy, Democrat of Massachusetts.