Senate Republicans today introduced a new version of Trumpcare, and it’s a mess. This is all very confusing, so we’ll try to catch you up on the healthcare debate(s) in the Senate today with a short news roundup.
As Vox.com explains, the new “revised” version of the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) is not all that different from the old BCRA. This is not a surprise, but here’s the short and sweet from Vox:
Senate Republicans introduced a revised version of their bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act on Thursday, one that would allow insurers to once again deny coverage based on preexisting conditions, and to charge higher rates to sick people.
The bill would keep most of the Affordable Care Act’s tax increases but repeal one aimed specifically at medical device manufacturers. It would deeply cut the Medicaid program, making few changes to the bill’s first draft.
Even with these new changes, the general structure of the bill stays the same from its original draft, which was itself largely similar to the bill that passed the House in the spring.
Got that? Now, let’s go to a separate story by Vox.com examining amendments by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas):
Included in the new bill is a version of Ted Cruz’s amendment allowing insurers to offer plans that don’t comply with Obamacare’s insurance regulations so long as they also offer plans that do comply with Obamacare’s insurance regulations.
So imagine you’re an insurer. As long as you offer some Obamacare compliant plans, you can also offer plans that deny people coverage for preexisting conditions, that don’t cover mental health benefits or pregnancy.
What will happen here is clear: The plans that have to offer decent coverage to anyone who wants it, no matter their health care history, will become a magnet for the old and the sick or the soon-to-be-sick, as they can’t afford, or perhaps can’t even buy, the other plans. That will drive premiums in those plans up, pulling younger, healthier people into the non-compliant plans.
The entire process leading up to today’s announcement has been as murky as ever. As CNN reports, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell released the “new BCRA” without bothering to inform all of the members of his caucus…
Senators walking into a meeting of fellow Republicans mostly said they were unfamiliar with the revised bill.
Alaska Sen. Lisa Murkowski, one of the GOP holdouts, was unhappy that reporters had seen a summary distributed to lobbyists before she had seen the bill.
Asked if she was upset by how the process unfolded, she said “yes.”
“I think that as a courtesy to those of us who are actually making the decisions that we would actually have an opportunity to see it first,” Murkowski added.
Now, just to make things even more confusing, there might be a separate healthcare bill on the way soon. From the Washington Post:
The Senate GOP’s push to rewrite the Affordable Care Act suffered an ill-timed setback Thursday, as two centrist Republicans announced plans to offer their own health-care plan just as leaders released an updated bill of their own. [Pols emphasis]
The move by Sens. Bill Cassidy (La.) and Lindsey O. Graham (S.C.) to debut their health-care proposal on CNN moments before Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) was set to brief members demonstrated how divided the majority remains in its quest to overhaul former president Barack Obama’s signature health-care law.
In a joint interview with CNN on Thursday, Cassidy and Graham said that they would take the billions of dollars the federal government now receives in taxes under the ACA and direct that revenue to the states.
“We’re going to see which one can get 50 votes,” Graham said, referring to the number of GOP senators needed to approve any bill in the Senate, given that Vice President Pence is prepared to cast the tiebreaking vote. Referring to McConnell, he added, “We’re not undercutting Mitch; he’s not undercutting us.”
Where Colorado is concerned, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Yuma) appears to be at ease with McConnell’s new BCRA, which destroys Medicaid as surely as the old BCRA.