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Senate Rejects ‘Skinny’ ACA Repeal

By HealthLeaders Media News  
   July 26, 2017

The so-called “skinny repeal” would have rescinded the individual and employer mandates, but left in place the Medicaid expansion, subsidies for health insurance and requirements for coverage.

On a 54-45 vote, the U.S. Senate on Wednesday afternoon shot down a Republican effort to repeal in two years some of the more unpopular components of the Affordable Care Act, including the individual and employer mandates. Seven Republicans voted with Democrats to defeat the measure.

Senate Republican leaders are desperate to pass something that will get their stalled repeal effort into a conference committee with the House, which passed its own repeal legislation in May. The two Republican-controlled chambers hope to hash out a consensus repeal plan.

The so-called “skinny repeal” would have rescinded the individual and employer mandates, but left in place the Medicaid expansion, subsidies for health insurance and requirements for coverage. Republicans said they would have used the two-year delay of the repeal to craft an alternative. The amendment also included a ban on federal funding for abortion.

Republicans also rejected several attempts by Democrats to move the repeal legislation back to committee.

Also Wednesday:

  • Anthem Inc. said that if it doesn’t quickly get more certainty about the future of the Affordable Care Act exchanges, it will likely further pull back its planned participation for next year, a threat that adds to the pressure on Senate Republicans as they struggle to pass health-care legislation. The big insurer, speaking during its second-quarter earnings call, strongly emphasized that it needed answers about the future of federal payments that help reduce out-of-pocket costs for low-income ACA exchange-plan enrollees.
     
  • Doctors and a major health insurer group are criticizing the latest GOP health care proposal in the Senate. That idea is called a "skinny repeal," because it would only get rid of the most unpopular parts of "Obamacare," such as the requirement that individuals carry health insurance or face fines. The American Medical Association said in a statement that invites healthy people to opt out of the health insurance market, forcing premiums up for everyone else. That criticism was joined by the BlueCross BlueShield Association.
     
  • President Donald Trump criticized Sen. Lisa Murkowski on Twitter Wednesday after she voted against GOP-led efforts to dismantle Obamacare, making her the latest Republican to be publicly rebuked by Trump on the issue. "Senator @lisamurkowski of the Great State of Alaska really let the Republicans, and our country, down yesterday. Too bad," he tweeted.
     
  • The Senate has delayed a vote on a proposal to repeal much of ObamaCare. The Senate had been expected to vote on the amendment, which would repeal most of the law in two years, from Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) late Wednesday morning, but made a last-minute announcement that it was being delayed until 3:30 p.m.
     
  • Democrats are escalating their attacks on Nevada GOP Sen. Dean Heller for voting to open debate on Obamacare repeal and signaling support for a trimmed-down repeal bill. But Heller, who faces a tough reelection contest next year, says he is at peace with his decisions. Senate Democrats’ campaign arm is already running radio ads against Heller for trying to “save his political career” for voting to consider Obamacare repeal on Tuesday after taking a hard line against GOP leadership’s previous plans to repeal and replace the law.


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