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Even Ted Cruz not ready to support latest Obamcare repeal

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Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) said on Sunday that he’s yet in support of the Graham-Cassidy bill to repeal the the Affordable Care Act because his concerns about health care premiums have not yet been addressed.

Cruz’s comments were made during a discussion with Texas Tribune CEO Evan Smith before an audience at the Texas Tribune Festival in Austin. The discussion included fellow Republican Texas Senator and Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, who said he’s voting in favor of Graham-Cassidy.        

Cruz said that although he believes Graham-Cassidy has some good elements, the bill has not addressed his central concern: the cost of healthcare premiums. Last week, Cruz said he and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) met with Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) to lay out a series of changes Lee and Cruz wanted to see in the bill.

The changes would have given consumers more freedom, “lifting the regulations from the federal government that are driving up premiums so that premiums can go down and more people can afford health insurance,” said Cruz.

Graham and Cassidy initially accepted the suggested edits and changes, according to Cruz.

“We said: If you take these edits we’re a yes. They took our edits and then a day later they removed our edits,” said Cruz. “Right now they don’t have my vote and I don’t think they have Mike Lee’s [vote] either. Now, I want to be a yes. I want to get there because I think Obamacare is a disaster.  But the price to getting there I believe is focusing on consumer freedom.” 

Cruz said as he has traveled throughout the state of Texas one of the primary concerns he hears most often from residents is the cost of premiums.

“People come up to me and say: I can’t afford health insurance anymore,” said Cruz. “The federal government created that problem. We’ve got to fix it.”

When Smith asked Cornyn if he would be a no vote on Graham-Cassidy his question received a round of applause from the audience. Cornyn responded “just the opposite.”

“I believe Texas and Texans will benefit in a dramatic sort of way,” said Cornyn, but did not offer up more details.   

Two Republican senators — Rand Paul (R-KY) and John McCain (R-AZ) — have already announced they will vote “no” on the GOP health bill. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME) said on Sunday she’ll likely vote against as well.

“It’s very difficult” to envision a scenario where she would vote for the latest Obamacare repeal bill, Collins told CNN’s Jake Tapper on State of The Union. Collins said she’ll make her decision Monday, after she sees a Congressional Budget Office preliminary score.

Cassidy did say his team will be releasing a new version of the Graham-Cassidy bill on Monday in an effort to garner more support. The Senate is pressing against a key deadline: September 30, the last day Republicans have to pass the bill with a simple majority under the current budget rules.

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