Senate Republicans Reveal New "Obamacare-Lite" Healthcare Bill

In what could very well end up being just another exercise in futility, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has just released a new version of a healthcare plan which, among other things, incorporates demands from Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Senator Mike Lee (R-UT) to allow insurers to sell low-cost, skimpier plans all in an effort to draw conservative support for the new bill.

Called the "Consumer Freedom Amendment," we highlighted the main points of the Cruz/Lee proposal last month:

The "Consumer Freedom Amendment" would leave existing ObamaCare plans on the individual market, while also allowing insurers to sell plans that don't comply with requirements of the Affordable Care Act.

 

"What that does — it leaves existing plans on the market but it gives new options so that people can purchase far more affordable health insurance. It will enable a lot more people to be able to afford buying health insurance," Cruz told The Hill on Thursday afternoon.

 

Cruz's amendment would allow insurers to continue offering plans that follow ObamaCare's "Title One" requirements, including essential health benefits, which mandates 10 services insurers must cover with no cost-sharing.

 

But insurers could also sell skimpier, cheaper plans that don't cover those 10 services or meet other ObamaCare requirements.

 

"If a health insurer offers a plan consistent with the Title One mandates, insurers can also sell in that same state any other plans that consumers desire," Cruz said.

Cruz Lee

 

Of course, with precious little votes to spare, McConnell's new bill has plenty of handouts for moderate Republicans as well. The rewritten package would add $70 billion to the $112 billion McConnell originally sought that states could use to help insurers curb the growth of premiums and consumers' other out-of-pocket costs.  It also has $45 billion for states to combat the misuse of drugs like opioids. That's a big boost from the $2 billion in the initial bill and an addition demanded by Republicans from states in the Midwest and Northeast that have been ravaged by the drugs.

As The Hill points out, the revised bill largely keeps the Medicaid sections the same, meaning that deeper cuts to the program will still begin in 2025, and the funds for ObamaCare’s expansion of Medicaid will still end in 2024.  The changes to Medicaid emerged as a top concern of moderates such as Senators Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Shelley Moore Capito (R-W.Va.) and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska).

The revised bill also restores some of the original Obamacare taxes on investment income and the payroll tax in an effort to help fund Medicare. Axios had more highlights:

An additional $70 billion to help states stabilize their markets and offset the costs of covering expensive patients — on top of more than $100 billion that was already there.

 

$45 billion to fight the opioid epidemic.

 

A provision allowing people to use tax-preferred health savings accounts to pay their premiums

 

Changes to the ACA that would let more consumers use tax subsidies to buy plans that only offer catastrophic coverage.

 

The bill would no longer repeal two of the ACA's tax increases on wealthy families, and it won't include a new tax break for health-care executives.

In other words, more provisions that simply make the bill look and feel an awful lot like Obamacare...a fact that Senator Rand Paul pointed out in an op-ed just yesterday in which he blasted McConnell's new bill as more or less a capitulation by Republicans to simply "keep Obamacare."

I miss the old days, when Republicans stood for repealing Obamacare. Republicans across the country and every member of my caucus campaigned on repeal – often declaring they would tear out Obamacare “root and branch!”

 

What happened?

 

The Senate Obamacare bill does not repeal Obamacare. I want to repeat that so everyone realizes why I’ll vote “no” as it stands now:

 

The Senate Obamacare bill does not repeal Obamacare. Not even close.

Seems that McConnell is trying to 'have his cake and eat it too' with efforts to appeal to both conservative and moderate elements of the Republican party. 

Will he be successful?  John Cornyn seems to think so:

US SENATOR CORNYN, NO. 2 REPUBLICAN, SAYS WILL HAVE ENOUGH SUPPORT TO PASS HEALTHCARE BILL BY THE TIME IT IS PUT TO A VOTE

Of course, it seems like we've heard that somewhere before...

 

The full text of the new bill can be read here:

Comments

doctor10 Crash Overide Thu, 07/13/2017 - 14:29 Permalink

Tip O'Neill-the Democrat Speaker of the House during Reagan's tenure in the White House once observed he would never bring health care to a vote because it would destroy the successful American legislative process.

Congress historically legislates to a very small minority population-wise. There is always a K St firm acting as a lobbying "buffer" between the issue and those being regulated that serves to further expands the representation of those Americans subject to the specific regulation/legislation. They have a firm on K St. in DC they can call on to help with their representation before Congress if things are going south.

Healthcare affects the entire population. There is NO specific K St.lobbying firm for patients to assist in their representation before Congress. Only the income tax is as broadly applied-and that was incrementally implemented -with the assistant of many corporate lobbying firms-over a 100 yr time span. The problem with the income tax even today is the lack of individual citizen representation. Imagine the trauma to the country if it was first enacted in its entirety in 2015.

ObamaCare has screwed the Fed.gov's carefully crafted DC legislative process, assembled over several generations. It is Ir-reparable. It cannot be tinkered with. It cannot be "mended"-there is no sufficient lobby vehicle or mechanism capable of ensuring appropriate mending for the people's benefit. The only lobby's involved in the legislation are corporate-and these only represent pharma, big hospital systems and insurance companies. All of whose interests will prevail over those needs of the people/patients. It must be ended.

In reply to by Crash Overide

All Risk No Reward FrozenGoodz (not verified) Thu, 07/13/2017 - 14:42 Permalink

>>No no no ... it's Trumpcare ... make him own this failure<<

No!

No! No!

No! No! No!

It's always been BANKSTERCare.

BanksterCare 1.0.

Now BanksterCare 2.0

The Republicans controlled the House when BanksterCare was financed.

A Republican Supreme Court appointee bastardized logic in order to support this illegal government power grab used to further the interests of the Debt-Money Monopolist Medical/Insurance Corporate front system.

In reply to by FrozenGoodz (not verified)

343 Guilty Spark NidStyles Thu, 07/13/2017 - 14:15 Permalink

They know that.  They just don't want to deal with the consequences of a full repeal.  Obamacare crippled the health insurance market and a full repeal will fuck over a lot of people for a few years.  Yes it will get better but those few years will cost the Republicans their positions and if the Dems get control, they may try to bring it back.I am for a full repeal but I can understand why they aren't going to do that yet.  I think they are slowly going to neuter Obamacare until it is a nothing burger.

In reply to by NidStyles

Peacefulwarrior Gordon_Gekko Thu, 07/13/2017 - 12:46 Permalink

Not gonna happen until it happens organically... if ever. There are scared sociopaths on the run right now in all walks of Government power and they will never relegate position to do the right thing. Trump has Cohn and Mnuchin presenting scenario of prospective collapse without MOAR of the same. Who wants to be responsible for pulling the economic lynchpin in this Cycle?? Do Elite really want to go underground? We'd find em and pull em out like Potatoes in Idaho if this goes Road Warrior... Let's just hope desperation doesn't create Vaporization with WORLD WAR III

In reply to by Gordon_Gekko

There Thu, 07/13/2017 - 12:30 Permalink

And once again, this is not about health CARE. It is about COST of care in America.We can save 80% of the costs and make it affordable to everyone.How? Enforce 100 year old laws, US code 15 forbids the CABEL behavior of our heath and drug companies.And the USSC has twice up held US15 viv-a-vie these actions.The only hold up is congress will loose Cartel money to run their reelection campains.

VladLenin Thu, 07/13/2017 - 12:31 Permalink

The gang ass raping continues. The republicans are just fluffers until the real rapists get back in power.Forget draining the swamp, make that fucker glow in the dark. 

NoDebt Thu, 07/13/2017 - 12:32 Permalink

Can't we use that "stupidity of the American public" thing to our advantage like that Gruber guy did?  No?  That's only for Ds?  OK, fine.  I didn't really want my taxes cut anyway. 

NidStyles NoDebt Thu, 07/13/2017 - 12:46 Permalink

The only stupid one was Gruber to think that people kept in the dark about everything are actually stupid. Some people can't tell the difference between a reaction of ignorance and one of stupidity. That Trump got elected says that Gruber was wrong, which is not surprising considering how hard that shyster projects.

In reply to by NoDebt

ZeroPoint Thu, 07/13/2017 - 12:33 Permalink

The Obamawreck plans are already 'skimpy' in value, yet cost a fortune. The middle class isn't going to pick up the tab for the free shit army and illegal alien vermin.

HamSandwich (not verified) Thu, 07/13/2017 - 12:33 Permalink

What? Did you think they were going to just end subsidizing their insurance buddies' companies???>>> We're In a Handbasket Headed Somewhere>>> There is no ceiling on American prosperity

There Thu, 07/13/2017 - 12:34 Permalink

.... the do nothing plans that Ins Companies will be allowed to sell again is a gift to them.This is where we were before the ACA.  Paying for silly coverage still make little sense unless you are buying campaign donations.

Last of the Mi… Thu, 07/13/2017 - 12:41 Permalink

If this in fact happens, it's tits up for Obamacare. The next question is whether the insurance companies will offer the plans to the consumer and forgo the massive government subsidies. Insurance companies are notorious for avoiding open markets, we'll see.

brushhog Thu, 07/13/2017 - 12:38 Permalink

Two things;1. The "skimpier plans" might not meet state requirements in some of the more heavily regulated states, so for alot of people it's a non-issue2. WHAT ABOUT THE INDIVIDUAL MANDATE???  Theyve been very good at avoiding discussion of this issue. Am I going to be forced to buy insurance or not??

DosZap brushhog Thu, 07/13/2017 - 15:42 Permalink

2. WHAT ABOUT THE INDIVIDUAL MANDATE???  They've been very good at avoiding discussion of this issue. Am I going to be forced to buy insurance or not??.Better hope not,the thingsw good about this is the ability to buy a PLAN you need, not one forced on you,and losing the mandates to buy insurance you cannot use due to rocketing deductibles.O'bstd took away catastrophic plans,this is a very good insurance plan for the upper middle classic,and SBO's.( or to  the point where you have so much $$$$$$$$$$ you're self insured anyway.

In reply to by brushhog

Arrow4Truth brushhog Thu, 07/13/2017 - 19:40 Permalink

Forced to buy insurance? Only if you allow it. They have no authority to force you to do anything. It's all about what you elect to engage in... or not. Electing so-called leaders to allegedly act on your behalf? Not working so well if you are forced to buy insurance. Simply elect not to participate. Have a nice day.

In reply to by brushhog

BigCumulusClouds Thu, 07/13/2017 - 12:44 Permalink

"$45 Billion to fight the opiod epidemic."  Let's see, we blow up the WTC buildings on 911 and stage a hit on the Pentagon, to invade Afghanistan to get the opium crops growing again, and then bill the American people another $45 billion to give FBI agents more money to fight the sale of opiods which we killed 3,000 Americans so that we could sell it in the first place. 

BigCumulusClouds NidStyles Thu, 07/13/2017 - 13:31 Permalink

Sorry but Israel did not benefit from the invasion of Afghanistan.  Its the British who have been selling opium for decades.  I'll never forget when Heraldo did a story on the Army gaurding the poppy fields and at the end they say Prince Charles will be arriving here to tomorrow to do his own review.  The Brits also created Israel.

In reply to by NidStyles

TheAntiProgressive Thu, 07/13/2017 - 12:45 Permalink

Don't touch this fucking thing.  Don't repeal it or give it a go.  The Senate won't pass it, repeal, that is then the Republicans will be acused of everything bad in the world.  Don't replace it or it is the same sad story.  Absolutely no bailout for big insurance, they wrote Obamacare anyhow.  McConell and Ryan are nothing but progressive Republicans and we need a new election cycle to purge this cancer.  The Free market is the only aceptable solution for Obamacare or government run healthcare.  Accept anything else and accept your own death warrant from these evil people in DC.Let Obamacare implode as it is doing with massive increases in premiums and deducts and hang Obamacare around the necks of every Democrat running for political office.  They did it.  They will be held accountable.  Any effort from the Republicans will assure Democrats claim the Republicans did it.  Don't touch this abortion.  Only a year and change until the big show, the country can muddle thru until new leadership is elected.