5 Key Hurdles McConnell Faces Passing GOP Health Care Bill in Senate | NECN
National & International News
The day’s top national and international news

5 Key Hurdles McConnell Faces Passing GOP Health Care Bill in Senate

In a report that complicated McConnell's task, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office delivered a damaging critique last week of the GOP-written bill the House approved May 4

    processing...

    NEWSLETTERS

    New estimates from the Congressional Budget Office say about 23 million Americans could lose coverage under the health care bill sponsored by the GOP.

    (Published Wednesday, May 24, 2017)

    For Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, writing a Republican-only health care bill that can pass the Senate boils down to this question: How do you solve a problem like Dean, Lisa, Patrick, Ted, Rand and Susan?

    Those are some GOP senators whose clashing demands McConnell, R-Ky., must resolve. Facing solid Democratic opposition to demolishing former President Barack Obama's 2010 overhaul, Republicans will lose if just three of their 52 senators defect.

    In a report that complicated McConnell's task, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office delivered a damaging critique last week of the GOP-written bill the House approved May 4. It concluded the measure would create 23 million additional uninsured Americans by 2026; lower premiums for younger and healthy people by letting them buy sparser coverage; and confront unhealthy, poorer and older consumers with exorbitant out-of-pocket costs.

    As GOP senators try privately crafting a bill, here are some problems facing McConnell:

    Senate Struggles With Health Care as Trump Signs VA Bill

    [NATL] Senate Struggles With Health Care Reform as Trump Signs VA Bill

    Just one day after Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., released details of the Senate revised health care bill, five conservative senators expressed dissent with the current language of the bill. President Donald Trump, meanwhile, signed a law that makes it easier for the Department of Veteran Affairs to fire employees as part of a push for an agency overhaul. 

    (Published 3 hours ago)

    23 MILLION?
    Booting that many people off health care coverage is a nonstarter for many Republican senators. It's a campaign attack ad that writes itself.

    Republicans defend just nine of the 34 seats on next year's Senate election map. Of them, just two seem competitive — Dean Heller of Nevada and Arizona's Jeff Flake.

    "Twenty-three million people. That's a good place to start," Heller said when asked to explain why he opposes the House bill.

    Most losing coverage would be Medicaid beneficiaries. Also hurt are people buying their own insurance and others getting coverage at work.

    The number can be reduced by spending more on Medicaid, fattening tax credits for people buying insurance and boosting government payments to insurers to help them lower consumers' costs.

    Those steps are complicated and expensive.

    Senate Releases Health Care Bill

    [NATL] Senate Releases Health Care Bill

    U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell released the GOP's health care overhaul on Thursday. The 142-page proposal includes massive cuts to Medicaid, cuts in taxes for the wealthy and defunding of Planned Parenthood for at least one year. The Congressional Budget Office has not had a chance to score the Senate's bill yet. Under the House bill, the CBO found found that 23 million Americans would lose their   coverage by 2026.

    (Published Thursday, June 22, 2017)

    MEDICAID
    The House bill would halt extra federal funds in 2020 that 31 states get for Obama's expansion of Medicaid — the federal-state health care program for poorer and disabled Americans. The legislation would also give states fixed federal sums annually, ending the open-ended payments Washington has always made to reflect growing medical expenses and caseloads.

    This means an $834 billion cut over the coming decade that would produce 14 million, or 17 percent, fewer Medicaid beneficiaries than projected, the budget office said. This is a problem for Republicans from states with a heavy reliance on Medicaid.

    Twenty GOP senators are from states that expanded Medicaid, and most oppose abruptly ending the Obama law's extra federal payments. They include moderates like Sen. Rob Portman of Ohio, whose state Medicaid program has added 700,000 enrollees; as well as Alaska's Lisa Murkowski, Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia and Heller.

    These senators are seeking a compromise that would phase out the extra federal expansion money over a period of several additional years. They also want the overall program to grow yearly by a formula that's more generous than the House would allow, and protect Medicaid money states use to combat the growing problem of opioid abuse.

    They would also increase federal payments to state pools for assisting low-earning residents and federal tax credits that subsidize poorer people buying their own coverage.

    CONSERVATIVES
    Many conservatives want to curb Medicaid spending. In one proposal, they'd phase out extra federal Medicaid expansion money over a decade but reductions would begin next year.

    Sen. Patrick Toomey's Pennsylvania has expanded Medicaid, but he's also one of the Senate's more conservative members. He's seeking compromise with Portman on curtailing Medicaid, saying it "must be on a sustainable path."

    Conservative GOP Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas and Mike Lee of Utah want to erase Obama insurance coverage requirements. These include obliging insurers to charge the same premiums for healthy people and those with pre-existing medical conditions, and forcing them to cover specified benefits like maternity care.

    Conservatives say without those requirements, people could buy less expensive though less robust coverage.

    Many moderates are wary of a bill that would let Democratic opponents castigate them for snatching away coverage like maternity care. They also cite the budget office finding that letting states drop coverage requirements leaves many sicker and older consumers with untenably high costs.

    Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul has repeatedly criticized the House bill for subsidizing insurance companies and is considered a conservative wild card.

    ABORTION
    Murkowski and Maine Sen. Susan Collins have opposed past conservative moves to block federal payments to Planned Parenthood, which provides abortions. The House bill does that and bars the use of federal health insurance tax credits for policies covering abortion.

    McConnell, Schumer on Upcoming Health Care Bill

    [NATL] McConnell, Schumer on Upcoming Health Care Bill

    Senate leaders are sharply divided on a long-awaited health care bill slated to roll back Obama-era health reforms, with Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer criticizing the bill as a "tax break" for the wealthy. 

    (Published Thursday, June 22, 2017)

    Murkowski and Collins have not said such provisions would cause them to oppose an overhaul health care bill, but neither is comfortable opposing Planned Parenthood.

    ALASKA
    With its remoteness, high living costs and small pool of residents, Alaska has had the highest premiums in the U.S. since Obama's law took effect, says Cynthia Cox, an associate director at the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.

    That means the House bill's tax credits, mostly linked to people's ages, would be far smaller than Obama's, which reflect premiums and incomes. That gap is a major problem for Murkowski.