What's the Senate Doing With Healthcare?

by Ask Hilbert

Since the U.S. House of Representatives passed the American Health Care Act on May 4, Senate Republicans have been working on their version of a bill to revise Obamacare; the Democrats are shut out from this process. (For our previous analysis of the CBO score of the House bill, see here)

Senate Healthcare Bill

While the recent turmoil surrounding former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony captured almost all of Washington’s attention, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell used a Senate rule to allow the healthcare legislation to move directly to the full Senate floor without any committee hearings and without publishing the text of the legislation. This is unusual and unprecedented for a legislation of this magnitude.

We are hearing rumors that Republican Senators are in favor of keeping guaranteed protections for people with preexisting medical conditions, which is welcoming news for patients with chronic illnesses. This is a major departure from the House version. Republican Senators are discussing between a three or seven-year roll-back of Obamacare’s expansion of Medicaid because a number of these senators represent the 32 states that expanded Medicaid and are worried about the backlash that this reduction could cause. Responding to constituent and stakeholder backlash, the Senate is also expected to increase the House-passed Obamacare repeal bill’s tax credits for people purchasing individual insurance coverage—especially for those between the ages of 50 and 64. Fundamentally, the current legislative discussions in the Senate are about how much of Obamacare to keep and for how long.

The Senate is aiming for a make-or-break vote before July 4th; however, deep uncertainty remains about whether the emerging legislation would command enough support to pass. Democrats are united and unanimously opposed to this attempt to reform Obamacare, so all votes must come from Republicans. Senate leadership is working within the parameters of the Budget Reconciliation instruction; therefore, it only needs 50 votes—thus Senate Republicans can lose only two votes and before they are unable to pass a healthcare reform bill.

Meanwhile, senators have also spent time discussing a fallback plan that would involve a stopgap measure to stabilize insurance markets. Pressure is mounting from health insurers in the Obamacare marketplaces who are up against a June 21 deadline to decide whether they will participate for 2018. Several insurers have already signalled plans to exit these marketplaces because of the uncertainty, leaving counties across the nation with potentially no options on the Obamacare exchanges.

Today's guest blog post is provided by AskHilbert.com, a service Company that provides assistance in organizing and keeping your medical bills paid and in check. 

Do you have concerns over the projected changes in the Healthcare Bill? Let's hear your comments below. 

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