New GOP Health Care Draft Keeps Major Medicaid Changes

Date posted: July 13, 2017

Includes a few small revisions in an effort to bring on hesitant lawmakers

Updated 3:43 p.m. | The updated Senate Republican health care bill to overhaul the U.S. health insurance system makes a number of tweaks designed to win the support of GOP holdouts, but maintains the significant changes to the Medicaid program that continues to be the foundation of the entire legislation.

An analysis of the new draft unveiled Thursday — which would pour billions more into a state fund intended to help lower premiums — from the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is expected to be released Monday, with a procedural vote on the measure occurring early next week.

number of members expressed hesitation over the previous draft, and some have already even come out against the changes included in Thursday’s version

It remains to be seen whether the revisions will be enough to win over the support of GOP lawmakers such as Sens. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, Dean Heller of Nevada and Shelley Moore Capito of West Virginia, who are concerned about the cuts to Medicaid.

“I’m hopeful,” Senate Republican Conference Chairman John Thune of South Dakota said when asked whether leadership has the votes to pass the motion to proceed.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has urged his colleagues to vote to begin debate on the bill, citing the opportunity for virtually endless amendments during the so-called vote-a-rama that must take place under the fast-track budget procedure known as reconciliation that the GOP is using to advance the legislation.

One noticeable addition is the inclusion of a tweaked version of an amendment from Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Ted Cruz of Texas.

The language included in Thursday’s draft is different from the version pushed by the conservative senators, Lee said, and would allow insurers to offer plans exempt from only select requirements — such as the mandate that certain health conditions be covered and the measure that prohibits insurers from charging individuals with pre-existing conditions more for coverage — included in the 2010 health care law.

It would also include additional funding to help insurers cover high-risk individuals, but that money would only be accessible if the insurers offer a plan that is compliant with the mandates in the health care law.

It remains to be seen whether the altered language would appease conservative holdouts. Both Lee and Cruz had hinged their support for the overall measure on the addition of that provision.

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