Local leaders weigh in on Senate healthcare bill

Jun 26, 2017, 00:08

Revealed on Thursday, the bill remains deeply unpopular, and with the vote looming on the horizon, prominent Democrats and progressives are speaking out - including the party's 2016 presidential nominee.

The bill was drafted by 13 senators-all of whom were white, male, and Republican.

The speech by Dr. Tom Price, the USA secretary of Health and Human Services, came two days after a select group of Republicans in the Senate released a bill that would eliminate the Affordable Care Act's requirement for most people to buy health insurance or pay a fine, significantly roll back the expansion of Medicaid coverage for the poor (called Medi-Cal in California) and end the increased taxes on affluent Americans that have underwritten much of Obamacare's spending. Now comes his next challenge - persuading enough Republicans to back the measure and avert a defeat that could be shattering for President Donald Trump and the GOP. Under the Affordable Care Act, single taxpayers with incomes above $200,000 and couples making more than $250,000 annually have to pay an additional 0.9% Medicare payroll tax on the amount they earn above these thresholds.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office said that under the House bill, 23 million fewer people would have coverage by 2026.

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The Senate proposal would affect those now on Medicaid, contradicting what Spicer said, although the full extent of the bill's effects may not be clear for years.

(AP Photo/Andrew Harnik). American Nurses Association President Pamela Cipriano holds up a list of essential health benefits as she discusses the effects of the proposed Republican healthcare legislation on families at a news conference with Democratic. Just as in the House bill, the Senate legislation would eliminate two taxes that Obamacare levied on the wealthy to help pay for the law.

Alaska Gov. Bill Walker, a Republican-turned-independent, said in a statement Thursday that he is still reviewing the Senate plan, but had some worries about how it might affect his vast and sparsely populated state, where health care costs are high. Of course, the other big piece of this bill that has nothing to do with the Affordable Care Act is a capping of federal funding for the Medicaid program, which is something that Republicans have been trying to do since Ronald Reagan was president.

Shortly after the 142-page bill was distributed, more than a half-dozen GOP lawmakers signaled concerns or initial opposition.

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The reductions would apply to states such as Kansas and Missouri that did not expand Medicaid under Obamacare and still use the program mainly to cover the elderly, pregnant women, children and people with disabilities.

On Twitter, Kennedy said: "I'll be reading through the Senate health care bill this weekend".

The left-leaning Center on Budget and Policy Priorities estimates that, in the long run, the Senate bill would mean even lower federal spending on Medicaid than the bill passed by the House.

"New York state will wind up with a far greater number of uninsured, and it will mean more uncompensated care for all our hospitals", he said. Now, with the Senate on the brink of repealing the law, he's one of the surprise holdouts threatening to block the bill.

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"We can go back to the drawing board and work together and fix the problems in the Affordable Care Act", she said. These provisions, which were first ushered in under Obamacare, effectively turned "insurance" into nothing more than a health insurance giveaway for many irresponsible consumers, and insured families and individuals ended up footing the bill by paying increasingly higher premiums and deductibles. "We'll have to see". The bill would nearly certainly mean reduced or no coverage for able-bodied, childless adults who are new to the program. It would also slap annual spending caps on the overall Medicaid program, which since its inception in 1965 has provided states with unlimited money to cover eligible costs. To deal with the funding reductions, states would have to make hard decisions affecting children's coverage and scope of benefits. Each state has expanded Medicaid and has a GOP senator.

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