GOP leaders plan Tuesday health vote

WASHINGTON -- Republican leaders pushed toward a Senate vote Tuesday on resurrecting their nearly flat-lined health care bill.

Their uphill drive was complicated further by the ailing GOP Sen. John McCain's potential absence and a report envisioning the number of uninsured Americans would soar.

The White House and GOP leaders fished Thursday for ways to win over recalcitrant senators, including an administration proposal to let states use Medicaid funds to help people buy their own private health insurance.

But there were no indications they'd ensured the votes needed even to start debating the party's legislative keystone, a bill scuttling and supplanting President Barack Obama's health-care law.

"Dealing with this issue is what's right for the country," said Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky.

He added, "It was certainly never going to be easy, but we've come a long way, and I look forward to continuing our work together to finally bring relief."

As leaders tested revisions that might attract GOP votes, others began comparing the process with the trade-offs they scorned seven years ago as top Democrats pushed Obama's overhaul.

"It's almost becoming a bidding process -- let's throw $50 billion here, let's throw $100 billion there," said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn. "It's making me uncomfortable right now. It's beginning to feel a lot like how Obamacare came together."

In a blow, the Congressional Budget Office said McConnell's latest bill would produce 22 million additional uninsured people by 2026 and drive up premiums for many older Americans.

Congress' nonpartisan fiscal analyst also said it would boost typical deductibles -- the money people must pay before insurers cover costs -- for single people to $13,000 that year, well above the $5,000 they'd be expected to pay under Obama's statute.

That dire outlook resembled one the office released last month on McConnell's initial bill, which the leader had to withdraw as Republicans rebelled against it.

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