Published: Mon, June 26, 2017
Entertaiment | By Lawrence Myers

Another view: Senate health bill is a travesty

Trump didn't indicate what types of changes may be in store, but affirmed that he had described a US House-passed bill as "mean".

Trump's allies tell Axios that they're now giving Heller a "second chance" to change his mind on the bill before they start taking out ads against him.

So far, five Republican senators have announced they can not support the bill as drafted: Dean Heller of Nevada, who says the measure cuts coverage too deeply, and four conservatives - Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas, Mike Lee of Utah, and Johnson - who say it does not do enough to lower costs.

The trouble is that Heller is the single most endangered Republican senator in the country right now, as he's the only senator who's up for reelection in 2018 in a state won by Hillary Clinton in 2016.

Spicer isn't the only member of the Trump administration to claim the proposal to strip $800 billion from Medicaid outlined in the Senate bill is not actually a cut to Medicaid.

Republicans and their allies in the insurance industry moved into that gap, terrifying people about what they would lose if the Clinton plan were enacted (most notably with the "Harry and Louise" ads starring a couple lamenting the very bad state of their insurance in the future dystopia the Clinton reforms would create).

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) needs to win back some of their votes to pass the bill with his slim 52-seat Republican majority. The outspoken athlete also defended Koch, who is often demonized by Democrats, as someone simply "trying to make the world a better place".

Though Johnson took a more agnostic approach to his criticism of his own party's bill, Sanders, who caucuses with the Democrats, was far more acerbic in his condemnation of the AHCA.

Trump's bill, the Accountability and Whistleblower Protection Act, is created to make it easier to fire Department of Veterans Affairs employees. But it would repeal the individual and employer mandates, along with the taxes and fees that have supported the ACA, and it would phase out the Medicaid expansion program, which has extended coverage to an estimated 11 million people in the states that chose to take part in that program.

"Does Trump team think it's smart to attack the most endangered GOP senator, from a state Trump lost?" the source said.

Many senators objected loudly to these changes, usually because their states were among those that expanded coverage, or because their states rely on Medicaid to finance treatment of raging opioid epidemics or both.

Originally, the Affordable Care Act required states to expand their Medicaid programs, with the federal government paying at least 90 percent of the cost of covering that group. This would have effectively stretched out the transition over two or three years, as people in the program found jobs with enough pay to push their earnings out of the eligibility range. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who each have expressed serious reservations with the bill for very different reasons, said during exclusive interviews on Sunday's "Meet The Press" that rushing a vote before the July 4th recess would be unwise. "We have a few people that are - I think you could say modestly - they're not standing on the rooftops and screaming".

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US Senator Susan Collins said seven to eight other senators, including herself, were troubled by provisions that she believes could cut Medicaid even more than the US House version. "So those in the highest income categories can get a tax break".

But the word "lite" does a lot of work there. More Democratic states, he said, could try single-payer systems while conservative states could bolster health savings accounts.

That translates roughly into a 15 percent, across-the-board reduction in subsidies, according to Larry Levitt, senior vice president at the Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation.

President Trump on Sunday confirmed recent reports that he denounced the House health care bill as "mean" - and he wanted to make sure he got credit for it. The state has added 200,000 more people to its program under the Obama overhaul.

But the politics in the Senate remain hard as McConnell continues to negotiate behind closed doors and rushes the bill to a vote expected this week.

And if that happens, Senate Republicans are sure to tout the CBO coverage number as proof they made the bill less severe. And plans might be able to offer less coverage.

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