Republican senators to get first glimpse of leadership's health care ideas

Lydia Fleming
June 8, 2017

Cassidy, a physician, has been a ringleader of sorts for Republican moderates skeptical of the GOP's partisan Obamacare repeal approach.

Sen. Roy Blunt (R-MO), a member of the leadership team, said the discussions were getting "progressively granular", while Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) refused the elaborate on the "component parts" of the proposals being looked at. And, based on conversations with congressional aides in both parties and outside experts, there are a lot of contradictory ideas on how this would actually play out under the Senate's procedural rules.

Keeping the community rating provision isn't expected to sit well with conservatives who have argued that Republicans need to repeal as many Obamacare regulations as possible in order to lower premiums.

"If Congress doesn't act to save Americans from this Democrat-inflicted catastrophe, next year is going to get worse", said Trump, who praised Ryan for getting the GOP-led House last month to pass its ObamaCare overhaul package.

"I would support short-term measures that stabilize markets and give us time", said Republican Sen.

Right now, Republicans face several obstacles. The list represents the various factions within the Republican Conference and the opposing views on key issues. "And when they passed the bill, they knew full well that the cost of it - $400 billion - was more than double the cost of the entire general fund of the state of California". He advocates for tying Medicaid funding to all urban consumers instead, which grows more slowly.

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On Medicaid, Sen. John Barrasso (R-Wyo.), a member of leadership, said the legislation would still end the higher federal funding for ObamaCare's expansion of Medicaid, but on a slower phase-out than in the House, moving the end date past 2020.

The House healthcare bill could result in 23 million people losing insurance, the Congressional Budget Office estimated, although Republicans have challenged that conclusion.

President Donald Trump says he is sure the Senate will get a health care bill "across the finish line" this summer. As in the House bill, the Senate is considering a per-person spending limit, known as a per-capita cap.

"While we do have a press assistant opening in the Communications Department, Senator Graham has not applied and should not make public statements on behalf of Senator Rand Paul". Burr added that the House Obamacare plan was "dead on arrival", and that "I don't see a comprehensive health care plan this year".

Capito indicated that she wants to ensure those on Medicaid expansion are covered - though that doesn't necessarily mean the program needs to stay in the same form as ObamaCare. And even then, they'll have to settle their differences with the House.

A second scenario might be to insert language into the bill that obfuscates its true legislative impact.

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Senator Bill Cassidy said the plan offered more protections than the House bill for people who already have pre-existing illnesses when they apply for insurance coverage - a major point of contention. Binder explains: "The goal would be to insulate themselves from criticism that they are throwing people off Medicaid".

"This is one more reason why the status quo on health care is unsustainable".

And so, the CBO could do serious damage to any such GOP tactic by releasing a score of the Senate bill (when it is done) that shines a harsh light on what the bill would actually do.

Trump himself made a point of agreeing to address religious conservatives at the same time that Comey will be testifying before Congress on Thursday.

The bottom line is that whatever tactics Republicans use, if they can get something passed in the Senate, and get Senate and House Republicans into some form of negotiations created to reconcile the two versions, the prospects of final success go up substantially. While the administration would prefer that such changes not add to the national debt, Marc Short, Trump's top aide on Capitol Hill, told reporters on Monday that the top priority would be cutting taxes.The Trump administration has outlined a broad plan that would cut tax rates for businesses and streamline the tax system for individuals.

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