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UPDATE 3-U.S. Senate opposition to Obamacare repeal bill grows

From Reuters - September 24, 2017

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A proposal by U.S. Republicans to repeal and replace the Obamacare health insurance program suffered serious new setbacks within the party on Sunday, when Senator Ted Cruz expressed his opposition and Senator Susan Collins dug in with strong criticism of the legislation.

Two other Republican senators, John McCain and Rand Paul, already said last week they would vote against the so-called Graham-Cassidy bill. One more no vote among Republicans would effectively kill the partys latest effort in their seven-year mission to overturn Obamacare, while dealing a new blow to President Donald Trump.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, a Republican, has said he intends to put the bill up for a vote this week, but he has withheld public comment over the past few days as some of his rank-and-file Republicans abandoned Trump.

Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, interviewed on CNNs State of the Union, reflected the uncertainty in the battle.

It is going to be very close. I hope it passes, he said.

Phil Novack, a spokesman for Cruz, confirmed that the Republican senator said at an event in Texas: Right now, they dont have my vote, and I dont think they have (Senator) Mike Lees vote, either.

Lee is a conservative Republican and close ally of Cruz. A spokesman for Lee said the senator wanted some technical changes to the legislation, but did not provide details. We havent committed to anything yet, Conn Carroll said in an email.

Politico reported that Cruz complained that the latest Obamacare repeal bill did not address his concerns about bringing down the costs of healthcare.

On Friday, news of McCains opposition sent shares of health insurance companies up. Centene ended 1.6 percent higher and Humana closed up 0.2 percent.

Trump has pressured his fellow Republicans for quick passage on what would be his first victory on major legislation. All Democrats are expected to vote against it.

COLLINS SUPPORT IN DOUBT

But Collins, perhaps the most moderate of Republican senators, appeared poised to oppose her partys latest replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act, former Democratic President Barack Obamas signature legislative achievement.

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