Senate GOP releases bill to cut Medicaid, alter 'Obamacare'

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Senate GOP releases bill to cut Medicaid, alter 'Obamacare'

There were a few minor points that were inserted in the final days of the bill but for the most part 90 percent of the bill was known to the public and the Republicans for that almost three-month period. It had been crafted in secret over the past several weeks.

It's been said that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., wants to put health care in the rearview mirror.

But it was unclear if, or how, the Senate would follow the House's path and forbid the use of health care tax credits to buy coverage that includes abortions.

"What I need in order to get to yes: I need the information, I need to hear from constituents and that's going to take some time", said Senator Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, a member of a working group that exchanged ideas for the measure. That move could prompt states to reduce the size of their Medicaid programs. The new bill would shift much of that burden back to states. First, rates of disability for veterans have increased since 2001, and second, the CBO projects that if the ACA is not repealed, additional states will expand Medicaid, extending Medicaid coverage to an additional 5 million people, some of whom would likely be veterans.

The Congressional Budget Office is expected to release its estimates of the bill's cost and its effects on the number of insured within a few days, but chances are it won't materially alter the expectation that its tax cuts benefiting the top 5 percent (and mainly the top 1 percent) will come at the expense of tens of millions fewer people with health insurance in the coming decade.

Moderates in the Senate are concerned about the bill's slashing of Medicaid spending.

The content of this legislation and the secretive process the Senate used to devise it are a slap in the face to American taxpayers who expect their leaders to work for them, not for partisan special interests.

The Washington Post, citing two GOP sources, said McConnell could bring the measure to a vote next week even if he doesn't have the votes, though some believe that he's just trying to press his colleagues to support the bill.

U.S. Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., said, "No surprise that insurance lobbyists are helping write this bill".

The plan would also provide funding created to help stabilize the Obamacare insurance markets in the near term and funnel money through programs to cut off access to funding for abortion providers. Many budget experts say that runs afoul of Senate budget rules because the federal funding impact is "merely incidental" to the policy.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell developed the bill behind closed doors.

So far support for the controversial replacement has been uncertain, even among Republicans, and McConnell will need a united caucus to get the bill through the chamber where his party holds only 52 of 100 seats.

At least a half-dozen GOP senators - conservatives as well as moderates - have complained about the proposal, the secrecy with which McConnell drafted it and the speed with which he'd like to whisk it to passage. But it would be more gradual than the House bill, which cuts off the extra funds for new Medicaid beneficiaries in 2020. But it would still end eventually. The Senate bill would keep the House plan to send a fixed amount of money to states each year based on enrollment or as a lump sum block grant.

The bill would let states get waivers to ignore some coverage requirements under Obama's law, such as specific health services insurers must now cover.

Both bills roll back a Medicaid expansion undertaken under the Affordable Care Act.

But there's a strong chance the Senate bill could spark a revolt on the right.

Defenders of the health law were quick to react. The way the size of those credits is determined would also change, and according to Bagley, it would change in such a way that people would get less health care for their buck.

"The Senate bill needed heart, the way this bill cuts health care is heartless", said Minority Leader Chuck Schumer. That language could be forced out of the bill for procedural reasons, which would threaten support from conservatives, but Republicans would seek other ways to retain the restriction.

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