On Thursday Senate Republicans unveiled a 142 page healthcare bill that revises but not repeals the Affordable Care Act, called the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017, that contains major changes to Medicaid, eliminates individual and employer mandates, makes funding cuts to Planned Parenthood, and ends a variety of taxes, including ones that impact wealthier Americans.
Drafted behind closed doors by 13 Republican Senators, the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 is a complicated an exhausting document to digest.
It is a watered down version of the Republican inspired House of Representatives healthcare bill, the American Health Care Act, that narrowly passed in the House last month which President Trump later called “mean” while it also offers longer term changes and reductions to Medicaid which serves low income Americans.
U.S. states receiving federal expansions Medicaid dollars through will continue to do so on a temporary basis; however, over time states will be required to absorb more of the funding costs and Medicaid expansion will gradually become phased out.
Lower income Americans will be able to qualify for more subsidies under the Senate healthcare bill to buy private insurance compared to the House healthcare bill, although the subsidies are lower than the current level of subsidies provided under the Affordable Care Act which is current law.
Coverage for preexisting conditions is covered in the Senate bill, even though it wasn’t included in the House version of the American Health Care Act.
The Senate bill also cuts funding to Planned Parenthood for 1 year and limits subsidies for insurance plans covering abortion except in cases of rape, incest, or saving the mother’s life.
The Cadillac Tax, a tax on high cost employer funded health insurance, would be delayed until 2026.
Wealthier Americans will receive a tax cut on investment and payroll income in the Senate bill which also gives states the opportunity to opt out of the Affordable Care Act’s insurance regulations.
Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders tweeted that we should take this “pathetic health care bill”, throw it in the garbage can and do something that will work for ordinary Americans instead.
We should take this pathetic health care bill, throw it in the garbage can and do something that will work for ordinary Americans instead.
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) June 22, 2017
Senate Minority Leader Charles Schumer described the new Senate healthcare bill as “meaner” than the House bill.
Four Republican Senators, including Sen. Rand Paul (Kentucky), Sen. Ted Cruz (Texas), Sen. Mike Lee (Utah), and Sen. Ron Johnson (Wisconsin) said on Thursday they were “not ready to vote for this bill” which could complicate its passage in the Senate.
U.S. Senator Rand Paul issued a statement on Thursday that criticized the Senate healthcare bill for not repealing Obamacare but noted that he remains open to negotiations.
“The current bill does not repeal Obamacare. It does not keep our promises to the American people. I will oppose it coming to the floor in its current form, but I remain open to negotiations” Sen. Paul wrote.
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