WASHINGTON — Senate Republicans released their long-awaited bill Thursday to dismantle much of Barack Obama’s health care law, proposing to cut Medicaid for low-income Americans and erase tax boosts that Obama imposed on high-earners and medical companies to finance his expansion of coverage.
The bill would provide tax credits to help people buy insurance. It would also let states get waivers to ignore some coverage standards that “Obamacare” requires of insurers.
The measure represents the Senate GOP’s effort to achieve a top tier priority for President Donald Trump and virtually all Republican members of Congress. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., hopes to push it through his chamber next week.
Yet it faces an uncertain fate in the Senate.
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. Facing unanimous Democratic opposition, the bill would fail if just three of the Senate’s 52 GOP senators oppose it.
The measure would provide $50 billion over the next four years that states could use in an effort to shore up insurance markets around the country.
For the next two years, it would also provide money that insurers use to help lower out-of-pocket costs for millions of lower income people. Trump has been threatening to discontinue those payments, and some insurance companies have cited uncertainty over those funds as reasons why they are abandoning some markets and boosting premiums.
The House approved its version of the bill last month. Though he lauded its passage in a Rose Garden ceremony, Trump last week privately called the House measure “mean” and called on senators to make their version more “generous.”
Democrats say GOP characterizations of Obama’s law as failing are wrong and say the Republican plan would boot millions off coverage and leave others facing higher out-of-pocket costs.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said the House bill would cause 23 million people to lose coverage by 2026. The budget office’s analysis of the Senate measure is expected in the next few days.
Indiana Governor Eric Holcomb issued this statement:
“We will thoroughly examine the language in the U.S. Senate’s health care bill, and we’ll be thoughtful in our analysis of how it may affect Indiana’s programs and citizens—as well as the opportunities it may provide for us to better meet the needs of Hoosiers.
“This week, we learned two health care providers will exit the federal marketplace. Indiana isn’t alone; insurers are pulling out of Obamacare in states across the country. This underscores the need for reform, and Indiana is poised to lead the way if given the flexibility and time to tailor the best solutions to meet the needs of our people.”
Sen. Joe Donnelly issued this statement:
“I believe most Hoosiers, like myself, are sick and tired of almost a decade of partisan debates about health care. And I know that if we’re going to improve the health care system to provide quality affordable health care, it’s going to take all of us working together. That includes those who provide health care every single day — doctors, nurses, hospitals — and most importantly, the people who rely on our health care system.
“The bill before us was drafted in secret and behind closed doors, and I’m very concerned that the Senate is racing toward a vote without the necessary input, analysis, or even a single Senate hearing. The stakes are incredibly high—this is about the health, well-being, and economic security of families, children and adults with disabilities, and older Hoosiers. I continue to urge my colleagues to work together to improve health care system.”
Sen. Todd Young (R-IN) issued this statement:
“I am reviewing the discussion draft and speaking with folks at home, but one thing is clear: doing nothing is not an option. Obamacare has failed Hoosiers as prices have skyrocketed, insurers have left the marketplace leaving severely limited choices, and deductibles have risen to a level where for some insurance is useless.
“Just today, we confirmed there will be no insurer that covers the entire state next year. Obamacare’s continuous collapse will eventually leave Hoosiers without insurance.
“I am committed to improving our nation’s health care system so everyone has the opportunity to access high quality and affordable care.”