Sen­ate Repub­li­cans woo con­ser­va­tives in new draft of health care bill

Law­mak­ers con­fer on need for pub­lic de­bate, amend­ments

USA TODAY International Edition - - NEWS - Erin Kelly and El­iza Collins

WASH­ING­TON Sen­ate Repub­li­can lead­ers are adding new lan­guage to their health care bill to al­low the sale of cheap, bare- bones in­sur­ance plans in an at­tempt to draw enough con­ser­va­tive sup­port to pass the mea­sure to re­place Oba­macare.

At the same time, the bill will give mod­er­ates more of what they want by in­creas­ing fund­ing to fight opi­oid ad­dic­tion from $ 2 bil­lion in the orig­i­nal bill to $ 45 bil­lion in the lat­est draft.

The draft bill, ex­pected to be re­leased later Thurs­day, will try to ap­peal to con­ser­va­tives by in­clud­ing a ver­sion of an amend­ment by Sens. Ted Cruz, R- Texas, and Mike Lee, R- Utah, that would al­low the sale of dereg­u­lated in­sur­ance plans as long as Oba­macare- com­pli­ant plans are also still sold.

In­sur­ance com­pa­nies have strongly op­posed the Cruz amend­ment, say­ing it would cause more in­sta­bil­ity in the mar­ket­place. Sup­port­ers of the plan say it will give con­sumers the op­tion to choose the right plan for their life­style. But crit­ics say older and sicker Amer­i­cans will end up pay­ing much more for their more ro­bust cover­age.

The re­vised proposal would con­tinue the Af­ford­able Care Act's taxes on high- in­come earn­ers to help sub­si­dize care for lower- in­come Amer­i­cans.

It was not clear whether the changes would at­tract enough votes to pass the leg­is­la­tion, which Repub­li­cans are call­ing the Bet­ter Care Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion Act.

Ma­jor­ity Leader Mitch McCon­nell, R- Ky., can only af­ford to lose two of the 52 Repub­li­can se­na­tors to pass the leg­is­la­tion. About 10 GOP se­na­tors op­posed the ini­tial Repub­li­can bill that was un­veiled last month, and McCon­nell scrapped a planned vote at the end of June.

Democrats have op­posed the bill, call­ing on Repub­li­cans to try to fix prob­lems with the ex­ist­ing Oba­macare sys­tem.

McCon­nell hopes to hold a vote on the re­vised bill next week, af­ter the non­par­ti­san Con­gres­sional Bud­get Of­fice re­leases a new anal­y­sis of what it will cost and how many peo­ple it would in­sure.

Sens. Lind­sey Gra­ham, R- S. C., and Bill Cas­sidy, R- La., of­fered an al­ter­na­tive Thurs­day that they said could help at­tract 50 votes if the lat­est proposal from GOP lead­ers doesn't.

"Just like no two pa­tients are the same, no two states’ health care needs are the same ...” Lind­sey Gra­ham, R- S. C.

Their plan would leave taxes on wealthy in­di­vid­u­als in place and send the cur­rent fed­eral fund­ing for Oba­macare, es­ti­mated at about $ 110 bil­lion last year, to the states in the form of block grants that gov­er­nors could use how­ever they want.

"In­stead of hav­ing a one- siz­e­fits- all so­lu­tion from Wash­ing­ton, we should re­turn dol­lars back to the states to ad­dress each in­di­vid­ual state’s health care needs," Gra­ham said. "Just like no two pa­tients are the same, no two states’ health care needs are the same ... The state would have a pot of money from the fed­eral gov­ern­ment to get the best health care out­comes for their res­i­dents."

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.