A rumored plan by Senate Republicans to pass a bill that repeals only a few key elements of ObamaCare would still increase the number of uninsured people by 16 million by 2020, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) projected late Wednesday.
One version of the so-called "skinny repeal" plan would scrap the Affordable Care Act's individual and employer mandates, as well as repealing a tax on medical devices. However, a final version is not expected to be made public until Thursday at the earliest.
Despite the lack of specifics, the CBO said that Senate Democrats had asked them to score the impact of repealing the mandates and the medical device tax, among other provisions.
The Senate rejected an amendment Wednesday that would have repealed ObamaCare and given Congress a two-year window to replace it. Seven Republicans joined all Democrats to defeat the plan.
The debate on health care legislation is expected to end Thursday, when the allotted 20 hours are due to expire. The legislation is being debated under fast-track budget rules that allow the Senate to pass it on a simple majority instead of having to clear the 60-vote filibuster threshold required of other legislation.
Amendments can be offered after debate time has expired in a Washington ritual known as "vote-a-rama," when amendment after amendment is voted on in what could be an all-night session on Thursday — with a final vote potentially taking place after midnight Friday. However, Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., said late Wednesday that Democrats would not offer further amendments until the bill text was made public.
The House narrowly passed its version of a health bill in May. If the Senate passes a different version, the House could simply pass that and send it to the president. House and Senate leaders could also form a conference committee to work out the differences.
Several Republican senators said Wednesday that the latter option is the path they foresee.
"Whatever can get 50 votes will pass, then we will go to conference and the real negotiations begin," said Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., while Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said a "skinny repeal" would be "just a vehicle to get into conference, so it may lead to a broader solution."
Fox News' Chad Pergram and the Associated Press contributed to this report.