Fractured Republicans get options on healthcare Featured

Alvin Kelly
June 21, 2017

Several wary Republican senators point to a Congressional Budget Office analysis projecting that the House-approved bill would cause 23 million Americans to lose coverage by 2026 and create prohibitively expensive costs for many others.

Medicaid has been a key sticking point since the Senate took up healthcare reform, as some GOP senators who are from Medicaid expansion states are reluctant to repeal it.

On Tuesday, GOP leaders met behind closed doors on a plan to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. Susan Collins (R-Maine) will vote for the legislation.

The GOP's plan to pass the American Health Care Act (AHCA) through the Senate budget reconciliation process may be hung up on abortion restrictions included in the House's health care bill.

"I heard you say, Mr. Secretary (Price), 'We'd love your support.' For what?" We've talked about it for seven years. "We'll get to work on a deal".

Senate Republican Whip John Cornyn, R-Texas, said, "We have to get this done by the end of the July because then we need to get on to taxes in the fall". "We haven't gotten into the specifics yet".

Asked if this is "crunch time", Blunt said yes.

"Democrats are trying to blame the failures of Obamacare on anything but the broken health care law itself". The hearing before the Senate intelligence committee could be the most watched moment of the year in Washington, largely thwarting any momentum Republicans had hoped for on tax reform or infrastructure spending.

The Missouri Democrat pleaded with Hatch to be given the same opportunities Republicans had during the process in which the ACA was written.

Senators say they also face pressure to move forward as several insurers have pulled out of the ACA marketplaces for next year - most recently in OH, where Anthem's decision to withdraw from the Obamacare exchange likely leaves 20 counties without an insurance provider selling plans for 2018.

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"We had a really detailed discussion about what would be in a bill, the details of which I am not going to comment on today".

But even as they insist that they're willing to work with Republicans if they abandon their repeal efforts, Senate Democrats also say that they can't underestimate the political will among Republicans to continue pushing for Obamacare repeal.

Trump's flagging approval rating - 37% in the most recent Gallup poll - is at or near historic lows for this early in his presidency, a fact that has not helped the issue.

"What we've been told so far, states would have the ability, a lot more power than they do under Obamacare, to shape their future, and I think we've gotta return the power to the states", Cassidy said, seemingly referring to a proposal to set per-capita limits on Medicaid, which would push states to put tougher restrictions on who's eligible for that program.

Sen. John Barrasso (R-WY), a physician and member of the GOP leadership team, confirmed that tweaks were being made to the House repeal bill's phase-out of Medicaid expansion to make it more of a "glide path". Therefore, the legislative vehicle has still not officially been delivered to the Senate from the House.

Senators still lack an actual bill, and the compromises needed to pass the Senate could imperil the legislation in the House, which will also have to back it.

The White House is trying to spur momentum this week by highlighting policy plans - a task made more hard with the spotlight on testimony by James Comey, the Federal Bureau of Investigation director fired last month by Trump, to the Senate Intelligence Committee on Thursday.

Under Obamacare, the essential health benefit mandate forced health insurance companies to offer mandatory coverage for things like maternity services and mental health care. On Monday evening Sen. But having a vote - even if it fails - could provide some closure on the issue and allow the GOP-controlled Congress to move onto other issues like government spending, the debt ceiling and more.

"The way to get companies to come back to these counties is to say you're going to do cost-sharing permanently", Schumer said.

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