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Senate Republicans Delay Health Care Vote
Senate Republican leaders have postponed a vote on their health-care overhaul bill after meeting stiff resistance from members of their own party, and President Donald Trump summoned Republican senators to the White House to urge them to break the impasse, according to a Reuters report.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) had been pushing for a vote ahead of the July 4 recess, which starts at the end of this week. The legislation would repeal major elements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) and would shrink the Medicaid program.
“We’re going to press on,” McConnell said after announcing the delay, adding that GOP leaders would keep working to make senators “comfortable” with the bill. “We’re optimistic we’re going to get to a result that is better than the status quo,” he said.
With Democrats united in their opposition, Republicans can’t afford to lose more than two votes among their own ranks in the Senate.
At the White House meeting with most of the 52 Republican senators, Trump said it was vital to reach agreement on the Senate health-care measure because the PPACA was “melting down,” according to Reuters.
“So we’re going to talk, and we’re going to see what we can do. We’re getting very close,” Trump told the senators. But he added: “If we don’t get it done, it’s just going to be something that we’re not going to like, and that’s okay.”
In related news, an article published on the Kaiser Health News (KHN) website contends that key dates in the GOP’s health-care bill appear to be designed more to protect political careers than to serve the people. For example:
2019: First major changes and cuts to the PPACA insurance exchanges happen after the 2018 midterm cycle, allowing congressional Republicans to campaign on a “fixed” health system, even though the PPACA is still largely in place next year.
2019: States share $2 billion in grants to apply for waivers under a much looser process through this fiscal year. These waivers would allow insurers to sell stripped-down plans that have low price tags but don’t take adequate care of people with pre-existing conditions. None of those waivers has to go into effect, however, until after 26 Republican governors face re-election in 2018.
2020: Stabilization cash that makes the markets more predictable and fair for insurers flows through the congressional midterm cycle and the 2020 presidential cycle. Then it disappears. Medicaid expansion funds hold steady through this crucial political window.
2024: States enjoy their last Medicaid expansion cash at the end of 2023—just as, perhaps, a second Republican presidential term is ending, KHN suggests.
2025: The bill changes the formula for the entire Medicaid budget (not just the PPACA expansion), dramatically reducing federal funding over time. That starts eight years and two presidential election cycles from now.
Sources: Reuters; June 27, 2017; and KHN; June 27, 2017.