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US healthcare bill would leave 22 million more uninsured

28 June 2017

The leader of the minority Senate Democrats, Senator Charles Schumer, said Sunday that Republicans have "at best a 50-50 chance" of approving their Senate proposal. NPR's Scott Horsley joins us now. "I think that's helpful".

"Imposing that waiting period would, CBO and JCT expect, slightly increase the number of people with insurance, on net, throughout the 2018-2026 period - but not in 2019, when the incentives to obtain coverage would be weak because premiums would be relatively high", the CBO said. "It's hard for me to see the bill passing this week".

HORSLEY: Well, it doesn't help.

Senators were originally slated to vote on the highly divisive bill later this week, following a closed-door process by McConnell and other Senate GOP leaders to draft and rush through the bill.

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And she's not the only Republican senator who plans to do so. Susan Collins said she would vote no on a motion to proceed with consideration of the bill. And remember, Ari, that Republicans have very little margin for error here.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell can lose only two members for the bill to pass. With Collins out he's down to one.

The change comes as congressional forecasters are trying to predict how the Senate bill would affect insurance costs and coverage. Tell us about what they did. The CBO classifies these as "not directly related to health insurance coverage", since they involve repealing a tax on investment income and annual fees placed on health insurance companies.

Senator David Perdue said earlier that he believed a vote would not occur this week as planned, but possibly "the first week when we get back" from the July 4 Independence Day recess.

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The bill may still be altered - on Monday, for instance, a provision was added imposing a six-month delay on getting insurance for anyone without continuous coverage. They want to get some points. At the same time, it would phase out the Affordable Care Act's Medicaid expansion, while offering less generous subsidies to those who purchase health insurance on the individual market.

Collins, a center-right Republican, allowed for the possibility that the Senate could work late during an open amendment process and said she would withhold a final decision on the bill until the Congressional Budget Office issues an assessment on its effects, which is expected in the coming days. And then starting in 2025, the Senate bill assumes that medical bills will grow more slowly than they have historically. The Senate bill would save $321 billion over a decade, more than the House bill's $119 billion reported by the CBO last month. But they would be big.

HORSLEY: You're welcome, Ari.

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US healthcare bill would leave 22 million more uninsured