The 10 Most Important Players in Senate Health Care Reform

FILE - In this Sept. 13, 2016 file photo, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Ky., second from left, standing with, from left, Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., and Senate Majority Whip John Cornyn, of Texas, listens to a question during a news conference on Capitol Hill …
AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File

The Senate will take up health care reform; here are some of the ten most influential players in the battle to reform health care:

10. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY)

Mitch McConnell, as leader of the Senate, will have to balance the competing interests between the moderate and conservative wings of the chamber. Republicans enjoy a 52-seat majority in the Senate, meaning that McConnell could lose two votes and still let Vice President Mike Pence break the tie and pass the bill. McConnell convened a working group of 13 senators to write a Senate health care bill, rather than taking up the House’s AHCA. McConnell said on Monday, “This process will not be quick or simple or easy, but it must be done.”

9. Lamar Alexander (R-TN)

Senator Alexander serves as the chairman of the Senate Health Committee and runs a working group to devise the Senate version of the healthcare bill. Alexander promised that the Senate will not rubber stamp the House’s American Health Care Act (AHCA), instead, the Senate will write its own bill.

“The Senate will write its own bill. We’ve already started that. The House has passed its bill. If we find good ideas in it we’ll borrow and put them in our bill,” said Alexander.

Despite the Senate’s promise to write their draft a separate health care overhaul, Alexander stated that the committee has a “sense of urgency” to put the legislation together. The Health Committee chairman said, “In the next several weeks we need to come up with ways to make sure to rescue these Americans.”

8. Mark Meadows (R-NC)

Congressman Meadows, the chairman of the House Freedom Caucus, successfully negotiated a deal between Tuesday group co-chairman Tom MacArthur. The deal, known as the MacArthur-Meadows amendment, led to the AHCA’s passage through the House.

Congressman Meadows has met with the Senate steering committee to negotiate a grand bargain on health care reform. Congressman Meadows will work with his conservative Senate colleagues, Sens. Mike Lee (R-UT), Ted Cruz, and Rand Paul to push for a more conservative bill in the Senate.

Meadows told HuffPost that “The fundamental question is going to come down to the tax credit subsidy in place, or do they drop back to an Obamacare modified subsidy.”

7. Susan Collins (R-ME)

Senators Collins and Bill Cassidy released a separate Obamacare repeal bill, The Patient Freedom Act. The bill would repeal the individual and employer mandates for health insurance, retain protections for pre-existing conditions, and allow young adults to stay on their parents’ health plan until age 26. States can either choose to retain Obamacare, receive the federal funding to create HSAs for low-income citizens, or allow states to create an alternative solution without federal assistance.

Both Sens. Collins and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) remain opposed to defunding Planned Parenthood, a measure that many Republicans hope to include in the final version of the health care overhaul. However, defunding Planned Parenthood might jeopardize the bill’s chances of passing through the Senate.

6. Rand Paul (R-KY)

Senator Rand Paul was a vocal opponent of the original AHCA. He worked with Congressman Meadows and the Freedom Caucus to improve the AHCA. Paul proposed his own plan, The Obamacare Replacement Act, which would eliminate the employer and individual mandate, expands the Health Savings Accounts (HSAs) and allows small business owners and individuals to create Association Health Plans (AHPs).

Paul told Fox News’ Neil Cavuto, “It’s going to take a little bit of work to get me to a ‘yes’ vote, but I do have an open mind. There’s not been a louder voice up here for replacing ObamaCare. I really want to repeal it. I just don’t want to replace it with ‘Obamacare-Lite’ or another federal program.”

5. Ted Cruz (R-TX)

Ted Cruz stood with Sen. Paul and Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) against the original AHCA. Cruz has been working with the thirteen-member working group of GOP senators to create a more conservative Obamacare repeal bill. Instead of passing multiple health care reform bills, Cruz wants to pass health reforms through budgetary reconciliation.

“I believe the only meaningful healthcare reform will be through reconciliation,” Cruz told the Washington Examiner in an interview.

4. Bill Cassidy (R-LA)

Senator Cassidy worked with Sen. Collins to unveil their centrist Obamacare repeal package. Cassidy, like Senator Bob Corker (R-TN), also wishes to keep Obamacare’s taxes to fund an Obamacare replacement. He said, “The revenue is essential.”

3. Orrin Hatch (R-UT)

Hatch, as chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, has jurisdiction over Obamacare taxes, which wields enormous power to shape Obamacare’s repeal. The senator rebuked those who wish to retain Obamacare’s taxes to fund the 2010 law’s replacement. “All of the ­Obamacare taxes need to go as part of the repeal process,” said Hatch.

2. White House Chief of Staff Reince Priebus

Reince Priebus was heavily involved in the negotiations between the Freedom Caucus, the Tuesday Group, and the White House to secure the necessary language and votes to pass the AHCA in the House. The White House chief of staff spoke with roughly a dozen of the Senate working group members to ensure that the Senate can make the necessary “improvements” to the bill to pass through the upper chamber. “Everyone is committed to getting this thing done and getting it done as soon as possible. I don’t think everyone is going to be beating down this group of 12; I think we’re going to want to let them do their work,” Priebus told Fox News.

1. Vice President Mike Pence

The Vice President is a veteran of Congress. He has worked to broker deals between Congress and the White House over health care reform in the House. Congressmen Meadows and MacArthur personally thanked Pence for his work to pass AHCA through the House. Now, Pence will tackle the bill with Senate leaders, attempting the bridge the divide between moderate and conservative members of the Senate.

Pence will head over to Congress to discuss health care and tax cuts on Tuesday.


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