Update on Senate Healthcare Bill
- A new Republican Healthcare Bill is expected in the next 48 hours
- Senators Cruz and Lee have drafted a conservative Amendment for the new Bill
- Opposition is already growing within the Senate even before the release of new legislation
- Senator Lindsey Graham is attempting to draft a Bipartisan bill in hopes of gaining democratic support
- Bipartisan support may be the only way forward for new legislation
NEW BILL AND DELAYED AUGUST RECESS
After several failed attempts to build consensus behind the proposed Healthcare Bill, the GOP controlled Senate is now making a last ditch effort to finally “Repeal and Replace” Obamacare. On Thursday of this week Senate Republican leaders plan on unveiling a “new” version of their legislation aimed at repealing the Affordable Care Act. The CBO report on this new bill is expected to be released next week.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) announced on Tuesday that they will be delaying the August recess by two weeks. He is hoping that this would give Republicans the time they need to pass new legislation.
THE CRUZ AND LEE AMENDMENT
Conservative Senators Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) have drafted an amendment that would allow insurance carriers to sell plans that do not comply with minimum essential benefit requirements. This notion is very popular with conservatives because it would allow for premiums on certain plans to be lower. The CBO score is expected to come out on this next week, and will forecast the uninsured rate over the next ten years.
As Republican Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) put it, “every time we get one frog in the wheelbarrow another jumps out”. New changes to the bill are expected to be met with determined opposition. Cruz and Lee have dug in their heels and have insisted on the language contained in their amendment. However other Moderate Republican Senators such as Dean Heller (R-NV), Shelly Capito (R- W.Va.), Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) as well as a number of other key Senators are expected to voice opposition to any conservative measures added to the proposed legislation.
This effectively means that the new bill may be “dead on arrival”.
Additionally, there is growing concern that the Cruz/Lee amendment will be used to create multiple healthcare pools which would cause a death spiral for the individual insurance markets.
GROWING DEMAND FOR A BIPARTISAN BILL
Faced with the growing number of obstacles outlined above, a number of Republican Senators are beginning to talk about how coming up with a bipartisan bill may be the best route. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is now working to draft an alternate plan that he hopes will win Democratic support. Graham is expected to release more details in the next 48 hours.
The evasive 51 vote mark in the Senate has proven to be all but impossible to achieve. Many Senators are coming to the conclusion that the only way forward is to cross the aisle and work with Democrats. However, Democrats are not expected to vote for any legislation “Repealing” the ACA. Instead they would seek to ‘Fix” or “Repair” the current system. This may prove to be the best path forward for Republicans who are serious about solving the healthcare issues.