Senate GOP releases bill to cut Medicaid, alter 'Obamacare'

by Antonio Miles June 23, 2017, 4:05

Out-of-pocket costs to cover insurance deductibles and co-payments would go up.

In the midst of a nationwide overdose epidemic, the draft Senate bill offered only $2 billion for recovery treatment programs for one year, less even than the $45 billion over 10 years offered in the health care bill that passed in the House in early May, which had already faced criticism as too paltry.

Most Americans actually get their health insurance through an employer and not through the government or health insurance exchanges.

Obama was more than skeptical.

As lawmakers made speeches about the legislation on the Senate floor, a protest erupted outside McConnell's personal office, with many people in wheelchairs blocking a hallway, holding signs and chanting: "No cuts to Medicaid".

What's more, the cuts to Medicaid will likely show up later as increased disability claims in states, Kathleen Romig of the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities told BuzzFeed News. "I think it's unfair and shortsighted to take one provider out of the Medicaid program". Places a per-person limit on future federal contributions, starting in 2020.

The Senate bill essentially ends Obama's expansion of Medicaid, costing up to 400,000 Arizonans coverage within about six years. Higher payments would be provided through 2023.

Federal support for traditional Medicaid would also be scaled back.

Democrats are roundly criticizing the Republican plan to scrap the Obama health care law. "Donald Trump was right - this really is mean, and in many ways this bill is meaner than the House bill".

"At first glance, I have serious concerns about the bill's impact on the Nevadans who depend on Medicaid", Heller said. States can not seek waivers that would allow insurers to charge more based on health. The cuts strike at a Medicaid expansion that was accepted by 32 states to increase the numbers of poor people with health insurance. Premium subsidies keyed to the cost of a midlevel "silver" plan. Ends cost-sharing subsidies in 2020, while failing to clear up uncertainty about whether they can be paid now.

Senate GOP bill: Premium subsidies are keyed to income, age and geography, and are more tightly focused on lower-income people. Cost-sharing subsidies are explicitly extended through 2019, an important detail that should help calm insurance markets.

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Current law also bars insurance companies from charging older Americans more than three times as much as they charge their youngest customers.

Obama law: Requires those deemed able to afford coverage to have a policy or risk fines from the IRS. Requires larger employers to offer coverage to full-time workers.

House GOP bill: Repeals coverage mandates immediately. States would also have to retain Obama's requirement that family insurance cover children up to age 26. Both bills would end that requirement, allowing states to set their own standards.

Senate GOP bill: Also provides a pathway for states to seek benefit waivers. Many Republicans have long fought that organization because it provides abortions.

House GOP bill: No additional money for the opioid epidemic.

States such as OH, which added 680,000 people under the Medicare expansion, and Kentucky, which added 440,000 people, have been hard hit by the opioid crisis.

House GOP bill: Cuts taxes by almost $1 trillion over the next decade, mostly for corporations and the richest families.

The difference? The Senate bill's cuts would be slower, but eventually deeper.

Senate Republicans are holding a private meeting to hear from leaders about their long-awaited plan for eliminating much of President Barack Obama's health law. However, they must collect a separate premium, strictly segregated from taxpayer funds. For example, if a state waived the rule that plans have to cover prescription drugs, an insurer could choose to not cover expensive cancer drugs on its plans, or impose a cap on the amount it's willing to spend on drugs per patient.

The Senate plan would make tax credits available for anyone earning up to 350 percent of the poverty level - about $86,000 a year for a family of four.

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