Scott Detrow

On Wednesday, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced that "Democrats are going to spend the next few months, including the August work period, focusing on the nation's health care system."

Every campaign manager running a Democratic campaign would have winced at that idea, had it come at any point between 2009 and 2017. "I would be pretty surprised," said Guy Cecil, the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee's executive director in 2012 and 2014, at the idea a Democrat would willingly draw attention to health care so close to an election.

The latest Republican push to repeal key parts of the Affordable Care Act appears to have met the fate of all previous Senate repeal efforts this year — it doesn't have the votes needed to pass the chamber.

Maine Sen. Susan Collins announced Monday that she will oppose the bill, authored by South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham and Louisiana Sen. Bill Cassidy. Collins' decision means three Republicans have now publicly said they are against the bill — and that is one more than the GOP could afford to lose.

There's a chance Republicans wouldn't be so close to repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act if former GOP Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania hadn't dropped into the Capitol barbershop this spring.

"I was up on the Hill, I happened to just go by the barbershop to see if I could get a haircut, and Lindsey was in the chair," Santorum said. "And Lindsey asked me what I was doing, and I thought to myself, 'Well, let me just bounce it off Lindsey.' "

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Senator Bernie Sanders was joined by several prominent Democratic senators today announcing a plan he calls Medicare-for-All.

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Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders will introduce a bill next month to create a government-run, single-payer health care system. And he knows it's going to fail.

"Look, I have no illusions that under a Republican Senate and a very right-wing House and an extremely right-wing president of the United States, that suddenly we're going to see a Medicare-for-all, single-payer passed," he said recently, sitting in his Senate office. "You're not going to see it. That's obvious."

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Senate Republicans don't appear to be too worried about President Trump's latest round of threats.

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The next few days will be critical for Senate Republicans' effort to repeal and replace key parts of the Affordable Care Act. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell will release a new version of the bill Thursday, and aims to hold a key vote on it early next week.

If that process fails, McConnell has floated the idea of working with Democrats on a bipartisan measure. "No action is not an alternative," he said in Kentucky during the July 4th recess. "We've got the insurance markets imploding all over the country."

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When Senate Republican leaders delayed the vote on their bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., was quick to not declare victory.

"We're not resting on any laurels, nor do we feel any sense yet of accomplishment," Schumer said at his weekly press conference, shortly after the surprise GOP decision to punt on a vote. "Other than we are making progress, because the American people are listening to our arguments."

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Senators are leaving Washington for a week-long recess, but negotiations over a repeal of the Affordable Care Act continue. Democrats are trying to ramp up pressure against the repeal effort. NPR's Scott Detrow has more.

"This is the chance. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," said the speaker, roving the stage with a wireless mic, gesturing at both the audience in front of him and the PowerPoint presentation behind him.

TED Talk? Late-night infomercial? Nope — it was House Speaker Paul Ryan, making a hard pitch for his health care plan after a week of loud conservative criticism.

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Four days before the Iowa caucuses, Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders' campaign has released a doctor's letter declaring Sanders "in overall very good health."

The letter, from Dr. Brian Monahan, Congress' attending physician, states that Sanders' last physical was "normal." The exam included a blood pressure exam, cholesterol count and electrocardiogram.