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McCain on CBO projection of 22 million fewer insured: “Obviously, that’s not good news”

GOP Senators Hold Meeting To Discuss Draft Of Healthcare Bill Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) explained on Monday that he’s not excited about 22 million fewer Americans having access to health insurance — even as he supports a health care bill that would result in that precise outcome.

On Monday, the Congressional Budget Office released a report estimating that upward of 22 million fewer Americans would have insurance if Republicans’ Better Care Reconciliation Act were signed into law.

Asked by reporters in the Russell Senate Office Building shortly afterward the report came out, McCain confirmed that he would indeed regard this as an undesirable outcome: “Well, obviously that’s not good news,” he said about the massive coverage losses.

Despite saying he was discomfited by the news, McCain has shown no appetite to oppose the BCRA. Losing McCain would almost certainly doom Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s attempts to pass the bill, given that Senate Republicans can only afford two defections and still pass the legislation. But in his interview, McCain seems to cast the coverage losses as one factor among many to consider.

“We’ll have conversations and go through the whole bill together, and have time to discuss it and decide,” he told reporters. “It will have to be a factor, an important factor.”

What’s so jarring about this particular clip is the disconnect between the gravity of what McCain is acknowledging and his on-camera flippancy. McCain understands that 22 million fewer Americans will have health insurance if the Republican bill passes. But he doesn’t seem alarmed enough to commit to voting against it.

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