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Senate Airs Obamacare Repeal 'Draft'

News  |  By John Commins  
   June 22, 2017

After weeks of secret meetings, Senate Republicans have released a ‘discussion draft’ of their proposal to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, and hope to rush the sweeping legislation to a Senate floor vote before the July 4 recess.

Senate Republicans today released their version of a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

On key points the Senate bill essentially copies the American Health Care Act, which was passed by House Republicans last month on a strict, party line vote.

The Senate bill:

  • Eliminates the individual mandate.
  • Eliminates Obamacare’s 3.8% tax on investment income on income above $200,000.
  • Phases out Medicaid expansion by 2023, potentially putting at risk health insurance coverage for more than 10 million Americans.
  • Adopts the House plan for a per capita cap on Medicaid spending, and in 2025 shifts the growth in spending away from the consumer price index for medical care to the lower CPI for all goods, which could result in significantly smaller annual federal funding increases to account for inflation.
  • Maintains Obamacare subsidies to help pay for individual coverage.
  • Provides $2 billion to help states deal with the opioids abuse crisis.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has yet to score the bill.

Republican Senate leaders have come under intense criticism, even from within their own party, for drafting the legislation in secret. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-KY, has said he hopes to have the bill up for a floor vote before the Senate’s July 4 recess.

President Donald Trump has pushed hard for the repeal of Obamacare, a pledge that was a centerpiece of his campaign. He initially praised the House AHCA when it passed this spring, but later called the legislation “mean.”

Last night, Trump told supporters in Cedar Rapids, IA that the Senate plan would have “heart.”

"I think and I hope, I can't guarantee anything, but I hope we're gonna surprise you with a really good plan," Trump told the crowd.

"I've been talking about a plan with heart," Trump said. "I said, 'Add some money to it!' A plan with heart."

Early reaction from within the healthcare sector to the Senate draft was fiercely negative.

“Senate leaders today have put ideology ahead of lives with a plan that puts health and home at risk for millions of working Americans and that would badly weaken essential services for everyone in communities across the country,” Bruce Siegel, MD, president and CEO of America’s Essential Hospitals, said in a media release.

“Today’s Senate bill makes few material improvements to the deeply damaging House legislation, and might be worse overall. For the hospitals that protect millions of Americans and their communities—our essential hospitals—this bill might even accelerate decisions by some to reduce services or close their doors,” he said.

The U.S. Senate's Obamacare Repeal 'Discussion Draft' Bill by HLMedit on Scribd

John Commins is a content specialist and online news editor for HealthLeaders, a Simplify Compliance brand.

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