GOP senators to get glimpse of leadership's health care ideas

Andrew Cummings
June 7, 2017

GOP senators are now working to craft their own version of a healthcare bill after identifying various issues with the House's American Health Care Act.

Senate Republican leaders emerged Monday from their regular weekly meeting with the surprise announcement that they have a draft bill on overhauling ObamaCare and that a vote could happen as early as July 4.

Senators say they also face pressure to move forward as several insurers have pulled out of the ACA marketplaces for next year - most recently in OH, where Anthem's decision to withdraw from the Obamacare exchange likely leaves 20 counties without an insurance provider selling plans for 2018.

Richard Burr said the same thing last week: "I don't see a comprehensive health-care plan this year".

Senator John Cornyn (R-TX), said that the Senate could vote on the bill in "July sometime". Republicans hold 52 seats in the Senate.

His comments came after the leaders met with President Trump at the White House to discuss health care reform. Questions swirl nearly daily with developments on Capitol Hill, and more are expected this week when fired FBI Director James B. Comey testifies publicly before the Senate Intelligence Committee.

Nonetheless, five issues remain the most likely to dominate Congress' summer. Short said Trump voters were "anxious to change the culture in D.C. They were asking for disruption to the way D.C. operates".


"This is a really big mess, and a very complex system, and so you don't do that in a couple of weeks", said Sen.

"They are not going to be able to rescue a deeply flawed bill by doling out some tax credits here and tax credits there", Sen. And as of Friday, several aides to rank-and-file lawmakers who are a part of the working group said they were not given updates from leadership on the progress of the bill. "It's wonderful to be here with the Republican leadership". "We're stuck. We can't get there [50 votes] from here".

Senators will question Comey on whether Trump tried to get him to back off an FBI investigation into ties between the president's 2016 campaign and Russian Federation, an attempt that critics have said could constitute obstruction of justice.

The "Senate, I'm sure, will follow suit and get a bill across the finish line this summer that will be great health care for Americans", Trump said Tuesday, according to pool reports.

The healthcare bill passed by the House could result in 23 million people losing insurance, the Congressional Budget Office estimated, a conclusion that Republicans were quick to challenge. The letter was signed by committee Chairman Greg Walden (R-Ore.), Health Subcommittee Chairman Michael Burgess (R-Texas), and Oversight and Investigations Subcommittee Chairman Tim Murphy (R-Pa.).

But no issue has proved more challenging than how to approach Medicaid, the half-century-old government safety-net plan for the poor that is a pillar of Obamacare's coverage expansion.

But others say a more open process, including one that didn't rely on a procedural maneuver that will allow simple majority passage without any need to build bipartisan consensus with Democratic votes, would have been more productive. After House Republicans found a way to pass a bill, senators don't want to be the ones responsible for failing to undo Obamacare.


Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, a New York Democrat, said that Republicans are finding themselves in "no man's land" by trying to use a streamlined process to pass an Obamacare replacement without Democratic support.

"You're scaring us", the host sighed. He sees this as a new entitlement program that is outside of the role of the federal government.

Trump has declared that NAFTA, the Trans-Pacific Partnership, the Paris climate accord and even the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation alliance are all "bad deals" for the United States and that he would negotiate better ones.

Senators and their staffers will present potential health care solutions to the Republican conference at a closed-door meeting on Tuesday.

The major goal of the health legislation in the Senate and House has been to lower premiums and expand choices while getting rid of the mandates in "Obamacare" that require people to buy insurance.

Democrats have pointed to that strategy as irrefutable proof that Republicans have no interest in reaching across the aisle on health care.

"There is all this uncertainty around the Affordable Care Act repeal", said Sen.


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