WASHINGTON, D.C. - When CNN announced it would host a town hall debate on heath care the latest Republican health care bill, otherwise known as the Graham-Cassidy bill, appeared very much alive. Today, it's on life-support.
Last night the authors of that bill, Senators Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana, defended their bill on live TV while Democratic Senators Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Bernie Sanders of Vermont argued against it.
As of Monday evening, three Republican Senators have publicly said they will vote against it. With Democrats staunchly opposed to the bill, Republican leaders do not have enough votes for the bill to pass.
"We are going to press on. It's OK to vote. It's OK to fall short," said Graham, all but conceding defeat.
"I believe politics is about making people’s lives better," said Klobuchar. "But this bill, it doesn’t do that. It kicks millions of people off insurance, it raises the premiums. It basically passes the buck to the states, but doesn’t give them the bucks to cover people.”'
Klobuchar argued there is still an opportunity for a bipartisan bill that will address problems surrounding the Affordable Care Act, which includes the dwindling number of insurers offering plans in some areas.
"Put the politics aside and focus on people first," she added.
"The effort was almost there and it was just stymied because this bill took up all the oxygen this week. [Lawmakers] are ready to go back and pass something, and there’s a lot of people - Democrats and Republicans - that want to make these changes and help the states," she said.
Klobuchar is one of many Senate Democrats who have refused to co-sponsor Sen. Sanders' healthcare bill, which calls for a single-payer system.
"There is a middle ground here of things we can do to fix [health care]," she said, as she called for an effort to reduce skyrocketing drug prices.