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Senate GOP aiming for vote this month on health legislation

21 June, 2017, 07:12 | Author: Simon Thompson
  • House Speaker Paul D. Ryan

There could be a vote in the Senate on healthcare in "July sometime", he said.

Senate Republicans are feeling pressure to pass a health care bill to repeal parts of the Affordable Care Act, and leaders say they are getting closer.

I am writing in response to Rep. Lloyd Smucker's support for the Republican health care bill passed by the House.

"I don't know how we get to 50 (votes) at the moment".

In meetings, aides have said that Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, the ultimate decision maker, has not made any statements that would point to which way the GOP's bill will move.

"We have to do it before we get out of here in August", Majority Whip John Cornyn of Texas told Politico. He was referring to tax-code revisions, another legislative priority Republicans have established for themselves.

"We've been talking about this for seven years, so now is the time to start coming up with some tangible alternatives and building consensus", GOP Sen. Some Republican lawmakers praised an outline that McConnell presented at a lunchtime meeting, although they cautioned that much work remained to be done. In a recent letter to me, he states that this bill ends "Obamacare's costly mandates".

That's according to a GOP aide with knowledge of a meeting Tuesday where Trump discussed the idea. It's unclear when a physical draft of the bill will be produced. But she added: "I'm not saying I support phasing it out". It's a rallying cry Democrats have been using for years, but one that has now gained renewed traction as Republicans struggle to put forth a repeal bill. "Senator Grassley was the ranking member".

The differing ideas reflect not only contrasts in policy but sensitivities to opposite ends of the political spectrum, with some concerned about an electoral backlash from centrist or left-leaning voters who oppose major changes to Obamacare and others anxious a less aggressive assault on the ACA will leave right-leaning opponents of the law dispirited.

Republican senators appear to be aware of the potential problems. Some have openly doubted that the talks are leading anywhere positive.

"It's more of a glide path so that states can make decisions for themselves", said Sen. Over the Memorial Day recess, Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said as he headed into a lunch meeting with the rest of the Republican conference, saying "differences on Medicaid" were making it hard to impossible for GOP members to come together on a bill.

President Donald Trump, before meeting with House and Senate Republican leaders at the White House, said insurance carriers were fleeing the public exchanges created under the ACA.

And even the White House is admitting that the ongoing investigation into whether Trump's team colluded with Russian Federation during the 2016 election is hampering any efforts at legislative achievements. Current funding runs out September 30, and many Republicans are hoping to enact spending cuts, which could complicate the process.

But the Senate plan would not allow states to waive rules preventing people with pre-existing conditions from being charged more, a departure from the House-passed bill, according to The Hill.

Moderates like Ohio Republican Rob Portman have advocated to phase out Medicaid more gradually than the House's Obamacare repeal bill did, while conservatives like Pennsylvania's Pat Toomey have argued that the Senate bill should restructure the growth rate for Medicaid funding so it is less generous than the House bill. "It is all being done with an eye to try to get it by with 50 votes and the vice president". "Instead of using working families as bargaining chips and driving up prices across the market, we need to work together to lower costs and make health care work better for everyone". That process typically takes around two weeks, meaning leaders would need to have a final bill in hand soon to get it scored and hold a vote by the end of next month. However, it also gives leaders an excuse for taking their time to produce the most comprehensive piece of legislation they can. "So my personal view is we've got until now and the Fourth of July to decide if the votes are there or not".


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