Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released the draft for the Senate’s healthcare reform bill Thursday.
The Senate’s bill features more generous tax credits for low-income and older Americans, a slower rollback of Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion, and repeals most of Obamacare’s taxes.
Additionally, the Senate healthcare bill proposes to:
- Repeal Obamacare’s individual and employer mandate and repeal most of its taxes except for the “Cadillac tax” on premium health care plans.
- Keep Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion until 2020. In 2021, Medicaid expansion would phase out the expansion over three years, ending in 2024. The plan would limit Medicaid spending with per capita caps, or states can decide to adopt block grants for Medicaid spending. Medicaid would grow at a slower rate starting in 2025.
- Allow states to adopt waivers for many of Obamacare’s health insurance regulations, similar to the House’s state waiver program.
- Retain Obamacare’s cost-sharing program through 2019, after which health insurers can no longer receive the subsidies.
- Allow states to impose work requirements for able-bodied adults without children, or Americans with disabilities.
- Exempt children with complex medical needs from the per capita caps on Medicaid spending.
- Provide $15 billion for a “State Stabilization Fund” to help lower the price of premiums and increase health coverage for 2018 and 2019. The fund would also provide $10 billion a year in 2020 and 2021.
- Prevent Americans from using subsidies to purchase health plans that cover abortions and will eliminate funding for Planned Parenthood.
Senate leadership attempted to write a more generous version of health care reform compared to the House-passed American Health Care Act (AHCA). The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) reported that the House-passed AHCA would cause 23 million Americans to lose health insurance over the next ten years while reducing the deficit by $119 billion.
Senate leadership revealed their bill on Thursday amidst criticism from colleagues for not involving them in the legislative process.
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) vented her frustration with the Senate’s lack of transparency. She reportedly asked on Tuesday, “Do you know what the health-care bill looks like? Because I don’t.”
Even as late as Thursday morning, Murkowski spoke with IJR:
I just asked Lisa Murkowski if she's seen any bill text this morning. "I am not a reporter, and I am not a lobbyist, so I've seen nothing."
— Haley Byrd (@byrdinator) June 22, 2017
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME), another moderate Republican, said Tuesday, “I’m hearing lots of conflicting information.”
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) took to Facebook yesterday, complaining that despite serving as a member of the Senate’s health care working group, he has not seen the bill yet.
Republicans hold a slim majority in the Senate; they can only afford to lose two votes before Vice President Mike Pence would have to break the tie to pass a health care bill through the upper chamber. The Senate will not vote on their legislation before they have a Congressional Budget Office analysis. Analysts believe that the CBO score could arrive as early as next Monday.
The Senate appears to have President Donald Trump’s blessing, as he told senators this week that the House’s AHCA was “mean,” urging them to create a “more generous” bill.
McConnell wants to vote on the bill before the July 4 recess so that Congress can focus on other priority issues such as tax reform and the budget when they return.
You can find the full-text of the bill here.