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Senate GOP Unveils ObamaCare Repeal Bill

23 June 2017

Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has announced a rollout of the Senate bill today morning, as Republicans huddled in the US Capitol to discuss the new legislation.

Moments after the 142-page discussion draft was unveiled, McConnell spoke on the Senate floor, renewing his criticism of the seven-year-old law.

The Senate measure, which could come to a vote as soon as next week, offers more generous premium subsidies for some low-income buyers of insurance compared to the House version, but it also dramatically cuts federal funding to Medicaid, a move that will likely force states to make deep cuts in their health care programs for the poor. This differs from the House bill, which tied its tax credits to age.

If Senate Republicans approve the bill, even by a narrow vote, it would give their repeal effort momentum, and likely enable the House and Senate to resolve their legislative differences and send a bill to Trump's desk to sign into law.

Like the House bill, the Senate measure would block federal payments to Planned Parenthood. McConnell's draft, hashed out behind closed doors, basically retains Obamacare's insurance subsidy structure - with just a few tweaks - takes a gentler approach than the House bill in the short-term to Medicaid expansion, and wouldn't allow states to opt out of key protections for patients with preexisting conditions.

The Senate bill, called the "Better Care Reconciliation Act", would repeal major parts of the Affordable Care Act, also known as Obamacare.

"Obamacare isn't working. By almost any measure, it has failed, and no amount of 11th-hour, reality-denying or buck-passing by Democrats is going to change the fact that more Americans are going to get hurt unless we do something", he said on the floor after the bill was posted. Republicans had been briefed on the plan behind closed doors.

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President Donald Trump said Wednesday night he hopes to "surprise" with a plan that has "heart". "By improving health care and mental health services for kids with unique needs, we will provide a sense of stability for these children and better equip foster parents to care for them". However, the inflation rate the Senate would attach to those caps would be lower than the inflation rate the House attached - the ultimate result being less Medicaid spending, as health policy expert Nicholas Bagley pointed out on Twitter on Thursday.

The bill faces broad opposition from Democrats. The package hasn't even been finalized yet, but they are already talking about scheduling a vote.

The Congressional Budget Office has not yet scored the Senate's replacement plan.

On Thursday morning, the Senate Republican Conference sat through a closed-door briefing for an hour and a half to learn about the bill's substance. "We'll see what happens, but this is probably a step in the right direction".

Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, called it a "good proposal overall", but that there's "a lot to absorb". Lawmakers have expressed a desire to vote on the Senate version of the bill before their July 4 recess. "I'm open to moving forward on the legislation". "We do not want to go down that road".

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO) was among the bill's original cosponsors. Dean Heller, R-Nevada, in a statement.

"Conservatives have always been for repealing Obamacare, and my concern is that this doesn't repeal Obamacare", Paul told reporters. I said add some money to it. But Trump says that Republicans would love to have Democratic support.

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The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said the House bill would cause 23 million people to lose coverage by 2026. The Senate plan however would keep Obamacare's subsidies to help people pay for individual coverage. Should coverage be interrupted for more than 63 days, insurers would be able to charge a 30 percent penalty over the original premium for one year.

These tax credits, which about 8 million Americans receive, lower the cost of insurance plans that consumers can buy on HealthCare.gov, Covered California and other insurance marketplaces.

One protester says he's with the disability rights group ADAPT.

"Currently, for a variety of reasons, we are not ready to vote for this bill, but we are open to negotiation", Paul, Cruz, Johnson and Lee said in a joint statement.

Pearson said those subsidies will be smaller than under current law.

Republicans plan to make their plan public later Thursday. Senate Republicans don't intend to hold any committee hearings on the bill, despite their commitment to so-called "regular order".

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Senate GOP Unveils ObamaCare Repeal Bill