Unhealthy outlook for repealing ObamaCare as some GOP senators defect from bill

Pierre Vaugeois
Juin 23, 2017

There were no assurances that moderates and conservatives will be able to bridge their differences. Trump tweeted. "Remember, ObamaCare is dead".

The U.S. House passed a different health care bill in May that would cut off the extra federal Medicaid expansion money more quickly, in 2020. There are a couple of more little goodies in there, like the repeal of an ACA provision that limited the tax deduction for insurance company CEO pay to the first $500,000. The House bill did the same, but beginning in 2025, the Senate bill will use a different funding formula that slows spending growth even more than the House bill. It would gut Medicaid with even deeper cuts than the wretched House version. States also could allow people to ignore the individual mandate and go uninsured. It would also largely retain the subsidies Obama provided to help millions buy insurance, which are pegged mostly to people's incomes and the premiums they pay. He called out Senate Republicans for negotiating the details of the bill without including Democrats and "behind closed doors".

After the release of the GOP health care bill, four Republican senators, including Wisconsin's Ron Johnson, released a joint statement saying they were "not ready to vote for this bill". It says that they think that poor people have it too easy. The tax credits used to purchase individual insurance would end at 350 percent of the federal poverty limit, instead of 400 percent.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said the House bill would cause 23 million people to lose coverage by 2026.

"The protections around preexisting conditions are still in place in the Senate bill, but the waiver authority gives states options that could include limiting coverage for people with preexisting conditions", says Pearson.

The bill received a less than enthusiastic welcome from several Republican senators. Sen. HCA Healthcare Inc (HCA.N) rose 3.8 percent, while Tenet Healthcare Corp (THC.N) surged 8.4 percent. But they also want to keep their health insurance.

Mizuho Securities' director of research, Sheryl Skolnick, said in a research note, "Hospital stocks are up on this news today".

Caroline Pearson, a senior vice president of the consulting firm Avalare Health, said the Senate subsidies would be smaller than Obama's because they're keyed to the cost of a bare-bones plan and because additional help now provided for deductibles and copayments would eventually be discontinued.

That criticism comes as senators gear up to debate the bill in the coming days. Rand Paul, R-Ky., speaks to reporters at the Capitol after Republicans released their long-awaited bill to scuttle much of President Barack Obama's Affordable Care Act, at the Capitol in Washington.

The outcome of this battle is vital for the health of millions of Americans. Under the Republican AHCA plan that was developed by the House, older adults could see premium increases of many thousands of dollars; insurers could again impose lifetime caps; and income-based subsidies would largely disappear. Trump made Obamacare repeal a centerpiece of his 2016 election campaign.

"Obamacare isn't working by almost any measure, it is failed", he explained on the Senate floor.

Legislators who disagreed on expansion appear united in their concern that legislation approved by the House of Representatives and proposed by the Senate would undo a 52-year-old bargain between the USA government and states to share the costs of providing health care to categories of the neediest citizens.

Obama law: People cannot be denied coverage because of pre-existing medical problems, nor can they be charged more because of poor health. Only 13 percent said it would improve healthcare quality.

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