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Senate GOP health care bill: Limit Medicaid funds, end no-coverage fines

23 June 2017

Senate Republicans unveiled their long-awaited health care overhaul proposal on Thursday.

This much is clear: The "Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017" differs in meaningful ways from the American Health Care Act that narrowly passed the U.S. House of Representatives in early May.

With the exception of some key changes - notably keeping Obamacare's subsidies to help people pay for individual coverage - the bill is similar to the version of the House measure that passed last month which Trump has since called "mean" despite having a Rose Garden celebration with House Republicans.

"There's nothing in the Senate's bill that protects SC's most vulnerable residents", Quenga said.

The Senate measure would phase out the extra money Obama provided to expand the federal-state Medicaid program for the poor and disabled to millions of additional low earners.

Although the Senate proposal ends Medicaid's expansion more slowly than the House bill, it would institute deeper long-term cuts to the program that helps low-income Americans, the Post said.

To date, 31 states have expanded Medicaid eligibility since 2014, helping to drive a historic reduction in the number of uninsured Americans - including many of those now struggling with opiate addiction.

Other parts of the bill - particularly as they relate to health insurance subsidies - could help South Carolinians. Currently, that upper limit is at 400 percent of the poverty level. The existing law was created to cover patients below 100 percent of the poverty threshold with Medicaid.

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But it would allow states to waive the federal mandate on what insurers must cover, known as the essential health benefits.

That ruling left the poorest customers in "non-expansion" states, including more than 100,000 people in SC, in a "coverage gap".

But the Senate version of the replacement plan would restructure the subsidies so that anyone whose income falls between 0 percent and 350 percent of the federal poverty level would qualify for a discount. Insurers have been deeply concerned over whether the subsidies will continue, as the Trump administration has refused to say whether it will keep funding them in the long run.

President Donald Trump praised the bill Thursday - though he acknowledged that changes were likely coming. "Well, you've seen it before we've seen it".

An expansion of Medicaid benefits now offered under Obamacare would be phased out beginning in 2020 and shut down completely by 2023, senators said.

Many moderates are still likely to be displeased that the Senate draft will nearly certainly result in significantly more uninsured people than under the ACA, although it could look a little better than the House version on that measure, which is estimated to cost 23 million people their coverage in a decade.

An independent analysis of the Senate legislation from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is expected in the next several days.

The Senate proposal attempts to strike a balance between the demands of a divided GOP conference, though conservative groups are likely to decry the draft as "Obamacare-lite". On Thursday afternoon, four senators, including Sen. "We'd love to have some Democrats' support, but they're obstructionists".

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McConnell has very little room for error - he can only lose two Republican votes and still pass the bill - and GOP senators were not jumping to support it.

The centerpiece of the Senate bill will be a series of major reductions in federal aid for poor Americans who rely on the government Medicaid program and consumers who now qualify for federal subsidies to help them buy private health insurance through the Obamacare marketplace.

While Republican senators have long said they would write their own legislation, numerous provisions included in Thursday's draft mirror the House language.

"In the many years since Obamacare was imposed on the American people, it has continued to hurt the people we represent - over, and over, and over again". That focuses financial assistance on people with lower incomes.

Graham, who has frequently expressed skepticism that his party could get it together in drafting a health care bill, said he left the meeting feeling "more positive than I thought I would be". "By improving health care and mental health services for kids with unique needs, we will provide a sense of stability for these children and better equip foster parents to care for them".

McConnell hopes to call a vote on the measure next week, all but daring Republican holdouts to oppose it and prolong what has already been a painstaking process to advance their promise to do away with Obamacare.

Medicaid has been one of the central sticking points in the debate.

The White House has dodged questions about the bill.

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"If the bill is good for Nevada, I'll vote for it and if it's not - I won't", Heller.

Senate GOP health care bill: Limit Medicaid funds, end no-coverage fines