Senate Republicans on Thursday unveiled a sweeping draft bill to roll back the Affordable Care Act, including a drastic reduction in federal healthcare spending that threatens to leave millions more Americans uninsured, drive up costs for poor consumers and further destabilize the nation’s health insurance markets.
The legislative outline, which Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s team wrote largely behind closed doors, hews closely to the Obamacare repeal bill passed last month by House Republicans, though it includes important differences. The House version was first celebrated by President Trump in a White House Rose Garden ceremony, though he later criticized the bill as “mean.”
House Republicans crafted a health-care bill behind closed doors and passed it quickly, and now Senate Republicans are attempting to do the same. Few GOP senators even know what’s in the bill that could come to a vote next week, some GOP senators are speaking out, and analysts say the secretive nature of this process appears to be unprecedented.
“I’ve never seen anything like it, as far as the secrecy,” Paul Ginsburg, a health policy expert at the University of Southern California, told The Fix’s Amber Phillips on Monday. Over at the Monkey Cage, meanwhile, George Washington University’s congressional expert Sarah Binder lays out four ways in which the secrecy goes above and beyond.
Senators are seriously considering keeping in place some ObamaCare taxes for longer than the House-passed bill would as they seek to draft healthcare legislation that can pass their chamber with a simple majority.
Republicans are looking to slowly phase out extra federal funds for Medicaid expansion, beef up the new tax credits for buying insurance and add money for opioid abuse treatment — but they’ll have to pay for it to ensure the bill passes muster.
That’s because the Senate healthcare bill must save at least as much money as the House’s legislation.
A key part of Senate Republicans’ new health care bill could get derailed over abortion restrictions, according to several GOP sources, a potential setback in their effort to repeal Obamacare.
Republicans want to enact new tax subsidies to help people buy insurance on the exchanges — but they want to include prohibitions on abortion coverage. The House had seemed to settle the matter, when both more centrist and conservative GOP senators accepted language that follows the Hyde amendment, which prohibits taxpayer funding for abortion.
President Trump summoned Republican leaders to the White House on Tuesday to discuss his summer legislative agenda, but progress is being stalled by the GOP’s inability to fulfill its long promise to repeal and replace Obamacare.
Lacking a consensus over how to gut the Affordable Care Act without leaving millions more Americans uninsured — as the House GOP’s bill would do — Senate Republicans now face a legislative logjam that could imperil other priorities, such as tax reform and infrastructure.
Anthem on Tuesday announced it would not participate in the individual health-insurance exchanges in Ohio for the 2018 plan year. That could leave 20 counties in the state without any plans on the marketplaces established by the Affordable Care Act, the healthcare law better known as Obamacare.
In a statement to Business Insider, Anthem cited “continual changes in federal operations, rules, and guidance” as its primary reason for exiting the marketplaces.
The insurer said disruptions in the market because of possible policy changes from the Trump administration and lawmakers on Capitol Hill led to the decision.
Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn said Wednesday that the Senate will pass a plan to repeal and replace Obamacare before Congress leaves on its annual August recess.
In an interview on KFYO’s “The Chad Hasty Show,” the Texas Republican was asked if the Senate could get a repeal and replace plan by the end of the year done.
“Oh, absolutely,” Cornyn said. “We’ll get it done by the end of July at the latest.”
Cornyn said he suspects the upper chamber will resolve the health care issue “in the next few weeks” and that lawmakers have “no choice” but to tackle it since, he said, “Obamacare is in meltdown.”