Thursday, April 27, 2017

GOP Senators May Yet Kill Obamacare Repeal

Word around Washington is that the fractious House Republicans may be able to cobble together a new bill to "repeal and replace" Obamacare.  Like its predecessor, this concoction would likely throw millions off of health insurance and allow premiums to soar for many even as disingenuous House members bloviate (read lie) about reducing costs, etc., etc.  Frankly, only a total fool would believe the claims since the number one goal in the House is a massive tax cut for the wealthy.  That said, anything that does manage to pass the House - likely on a pure party line vote - still faces sever obstacles in the Senate and not just from Democrats.  As a piece in Politico reports, a number of Republican Senators may be the bill's biggest obstacle.  Here are article highlights:
The House may finally be on its way to scrapping Obamacare, but don’t expect the Senate to go along: Any plan sent over will undergo major surgery — and survival is far from assured.
The hurdles in the upper chamber were on vivid display Wednesday as House Republicans celebrated their breakthrough on the stalled repeal effort. The compromise cut with House Freedom Caucus members won over the right flank, but the changes will almost surely make it harder to pick up votes in the more moderate-minded Senate.
“The Freedom Caucus has done a good job of trying to make the bill less bad,” Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), one of the lead Senate agitators against the House health care push, said Wednesday. “For me, it’s a big stumbling block still that there’s taxpayer money that’s being given to insurance companies, and I am just not in favor of taxpayer money going to insurance companies.”
Phil Novack, a spokesman for Sen. Ted Cruz , also indicated that the conservative Texas firebrand isn't sold, saying “significant work remains” in the Senate, “specifically to address Obamacare’s insurance mandates and enact major patient-centered reforms that will further reduce the cost of health care.”
Sources say it may take more than a month for any House health care bill to run through the traps in the Senate, including internal party discussions and an analysis of how the measure would affect the deficit and insurance rolls. No committee hearings are planned because Republicans don’t want to give Democrats a public forum to bash an effort they are not involved in. And similar to the Senate's dim view of the House's proposal, the lower chamber may not ultimately be able to pass whatever the Senate is able to produce on Obamacare.
Weeks after the spectacular collapse of Obamacare repeal efforts last month, MacArthur and Meadows struck a deal with new language that would allow states to opt out of several key Obamacare provisions, such as its ban on charging sick people higher premiums and the so-called essential health benefits mandate that requires insurers to provide a set of minimum benefits.
The new language was enough to earn the formal endorsement of the Freedom Caucus, but House moderates who were opposed to the previous plan remain wary of backing a proposal that could cause constituents with pre-existing conditions to lose affordable health care coverage. In fact, the new plan may be having the reverse effect on some centrists: Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) had supported the initial Obamacare replacement but now says he’s a “maybe.”
Influential Senate Republicans also raised doubts about whether the new House proposal is workable. . . . Senators are likely to make Medicaid cuts less severe, deliver more money for opioid funding, make tax credits for the middle class more generous and rework the House’s waivers from Obamacare’s requirements.
In interviews with senators across a broad ideological range, there was growing irritation with attempts to ram complicated legislative language through the House and expect the Senate to clean it up. Some GOP senators suggested that a bipartisan bill may be the only way to overhaul the health care system in a lasting manner.
“I don’t know if this bill is better … the worst thing we can do is replace it with a Republican-only alternative that doesn’t drive down costs, that doesn’t improve access to care,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.). 
Republicans in the House are desperate to pass a bill.  The fact that it would harm many seems to be irrelevant as long as they can say they passed something - and, of course, delivered a big tax cut to the most wealthy.

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