Column | The maverick saves his party, and the country

No one knows how many more pivotal votes John McCain has left in his tenure in Congress. But last week’s vote to kill the Republican effort for a “skinny repeal” of Obamacare has to rank as one them.

With one “no” vote he stopped a likely self-inflicted wound not only on the nation, but also on the Republican Party.

And though many will no doubt demonize him, they should be thanking him for saving them from themselves.

The GOP somehow decided they had to pass something, anything, just to keep away primary challengers because they failed to live up to their seven-year promise to repeal and replace Obamacare.

According to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, the “skinny repeal” would have increased the number of uninsured Americans by 16 million by 2026 and would have increased insurance premiums on the rest of us by 20 percent.

The CBO stressed that this was a best guess, its accountants didn’t have time to do a full score because it was introduced only hours before Senators voted on it.

Before the vote, 10 Republican senators came out and admitted this was a terrible bill that would harm Americans. Most of them voted for it anyway, saying they wanted to get to a House-Senate conference where something might be worked out that would make everyone (except Democrats) happy.

McCain said he was willing to do the same. He just needed Paul Ryan to guarantee that the House would not vote on the Senate bill as-is. If they did, and it passed, then it would go straight to President Trump who didn’t care what was in the bill, he just wanted to sign something.

When Ryan issued a typical politician’s statement, which used many words but didn’t actually promise anything, McCain decided to vote no.

He wasn’t going to chance this terrible bill might become law just because the Republicans were desperate to pass something.

How would it have impacted you?

Doing away with the mandate and penalties for people who do not get insurance means young healthy people would likely go without. The mandate was a compromise because insurance companies were forced to accept people with pre-existing conditions. They were to get a new group of young, healthy people buying insurance, which would help offset their increased costs.

Under “skinny repeal” they’d still have to take people with pre-existing conditions, whose costs are high, and they would likely lose the healthy young people who don’t cost them much.

Therefore, everyone’s premiums would go up to make up the difference.

That still may happen. President Trump, whose grasp of policy … who are we kidding, he doesn’t grasp policy at all, has announced he will not enforce the mandate. So if young healthy people forego insurance, well, the costs for businesses and workers who have insurance is going to climb. A lot.

Someone has to pay for those pre-existing conditions.

Imagine what would have happened to the Republican Party when coverage increases 20, 30 percent because of their “skinny repeal.”

To all the Republicans who voted for it even though they admitted it was a terrible bill, please rethink your priorities. A short-term win isn’t worth the cost when it hurts so many Americans.

And to Senator McCain, your party and the nation should thank you for saving us from this terrible bill.