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Arizona Senators Vote To Begin Debate On ACA Repeal, Replacement

Arizona Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake
U.S. Sens. John McCain and Jeff Flake of Arizona

Arizona’s two senators have cast their votes in favor of starting debate on a repeal and replacement for the Affordable Care Act.

John McCain, still recovering from brain surgery, flew to Washington, D.C., to cast one of the final votes, but that doesn’t mean he likes what Republicans have offered so far.

“I will not vote for this bill as it is today," McCain told senators moments after the vote. “It is a shell of a bill right now. We all know that. I have changes urged by my state’s governor that will have to be included to earn my support for final passage of any bill.”

McCain went onto chastise his colleagues for not working together and instead listening to the "loudmouths" on the radio and television.

McCain has previously said he’d filed amendments to the Senate's revised Better Care Reconciliation Act to ensure Arizona doesn’t see such deep cuts to its Medicaid program and to extend the phase-out period for Medicaid expansion. Without the enhanced funding for the expansion population, more than 400,000 people who have joined Arizona’s Medicaid program since the ACA could lose coverage.

Meanwhile as the Senate prepared to vote, mayors from Arizona cities were calling for a bipartisan approach to fixing the health-care law.

Mesa Mayor John Giles, a Republican, and Phoenix Mayor Greg Stanton, a Democrat, joined a host of mayors from around the country to say the GOP replacements, both the House and Senate versions, would simply shift health-care costs to state and local governments.

While he appreciates that Republicans are trying to be fiscally responsible, Giles said none of the legislation so far actually lives up to that goal.

“It looks like the federal government is trying to run away from a burning building. And that is not what cities do. That is not an option for us. We are the bottom tier safety net when it comes to providing medical care,” Giles said.

Will Stone grew up with the sounds of public radio. As a senior field correspondent, he strives to tell the same kind of powerful stories that got him into the business — whether that means trudging through some distant corner of the Sonoran Desert or uncovering an unknown injustice right down the street. Since joining the KJZZ newsroom in 2015, he has covered political scandals, fights over the future of energy, and efforts to care for some of Arizona’s most vulnerable communities. His pieces have also aired on national programs like Morning Edition, All Things Considered, Here & Now and Marketplace. Before coming to KJZZ, he reported for public radio stations in Nevada and Connecticut. Stone received his degree in English literature from Haverford College, where he also wrote about the arts and culture scene in Philadelphia. After graduating, he interned at NPR West in Culver City, California, where he learned from some of the network’s veteran reporters and editors. When he doesn’t have a mic in hand, Stone enjoys climbing mountains, running through his central Phoenix neighborhood and shamelessly promoting his cat, Barry.