Republican leaders have revised their health care bill in an effort to deliver on seven years of promises to repeal and replace Obamacare. They immediately lost two pivotal votes, leaving none to spare. The reworked bill McConnell presented to fellow Republicans on Thursday aims to win conservatives’ support by letting insurers sell low-cost policies. At the same time, he seeks to placate hesitant moderates by adding billions to combat opioid abuse and help consumers with skyrocketing insurance costs. President Trump tweeted this morning, “After all of these years of suffering thru ObamaCare, Republican Senators must come through as they have promised!”
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Republican leaders unveiled a revised health-care bill on Thursday, setting up a Senate watershed next week. Few votes will reveal more about the principles and character of this Congress.
Months of stations-of-the-cross negotiations between conservative and GOP moderates have pulled the bill towards the political center, and for the most part the new version continues the journey. This leftward shift is Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s bid to meet the demands of still-recalcitrant Republican moderates. The bill remains a net improvement over the Obama Care status quo, but the question now is whether they’ll take yes for an answer.
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The new Senate health bill abolishes the following Obamacare taxes: 1) Individual Mandate Tax; 2) Employer Mandate; 3) Medicine Cabinet Tax; 4) Flexible Spending Account Tax; 5) Chronic Care Tax; 6) Health Insurance Tax; 7) Medical Device Tax; 8) Tax on prescription medicine; 9) Tax on Medicare Part D retiree prescription drug coverage; 10) Health Savings Account (HSA) Withdrawal Tax; and 11) 10% excise tax on small businesses with indoor tanning services. The Senate bill also delays the “Cadillac” tax on employer-provided insurance until 2026 and doubles the maximum HSA contribution from $3,400 to $6,550 for individuals and from $6,750 to $13,100 for families. The Senate bill also allows Americans to use HSA funds to pay for health insurance premiums.
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Twenty-three years ago, President Bill Clinton and Senate Democrats canceled two weeks of the August recess to pass a major health care bill. They got nowhere.
Now Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is trying the same thing with the GOP for the August break, and it may lead to the same result.
“I’m hoping for better this time,” said Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) on Tuesday afternoon after saying earlier he was “very pessimistic” the GOP would succeed. In 1994, Democrats “kept us in and we didn’t accomplish anything.”
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We are 2 former Administrators of the Medicare and Medicaid programs, under Presidents Barack Obama and George H. W. Bush. Although we represent different political parties, we take pride in the accomplishments of these 2 programs, which collectively help millions of US residents get the health care they need.
Medicaid has become a major focus in the debate over repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA), because the proposed replacement bills go beyond the ACA into the underlying Medicaid program that was originally passed by Congress in 1965. As we have overseen the Medicaid program at various stages, we are familiar with its successes, its areas for improvement, its effect on state budgets, and its importance to millions of ordinary people who count on the program and will need it in the future.
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In the 1990s, there was plenty of teeth-gnashing by welfare reform opponents over changing the funding structure for cash assistance, implementing work requirements, and creating time limits – rhetoric that sounds eerily similar to much of the health reform coverage today.
Mostly absent from the welfare discussion was the role that earned income tax credits (EITC) would play in reform. Similarly, in the current health care debates over Medicaid changes there is a lack of any reference to proposed tax credits.
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- 56% say Medicaid should target set spending to the disabled, elderly, children, and pregnant women in poverty based on their specific needs.
- 62% say it is a bad thing that Medicaid expansion spends money on childless adults, rather than the most vulnerable populations the program was designed to serve.
- 57% say it is a bad thing that Obamacare gave states higher reimbursements for adding able-bodied adults to Medicaid than for serving the elderly and disabled.
- No majority support for any single approach to reform
- 44% want to keep ACA but make significant changes
- Slight majority of Americans (53%) approve of the ACA
“The Senate Republican health care bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017, is on thin ice, with about ten Republican Senators expressing reservations about the bill. Can Mitch McConnell get 50 senators to yes? What are the implications for the future of health care in America if he can—or can’t?
To help answer these questions, we’re fortunate to be joined by Grace-Marie Turner, the most influential health care scholar in the conservative movement.”
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