Republicans Scramble To Revise Obamacare Repeal Bill As Defeat Looms

After Texas Senator Ted Cruz revealed Sunday that he wouldn’t support Graham-Cassidy, effectively quashing the Republicans’ chances of repealing and replacing Obamacare before the crucial Sept. 30 deadline, Bloomberg reported that the GOP senate leadership was scrambling late Sunday to revise the bill to win support from a small but critical group of holdout senators and secure the 50 votes needed to allow the tie-breaking vote in favor cast by Vice President Mike Pence.

Cruz, who had previously said he supported a system of scrapping the Obamacare Medicaid expansion in favor of providing block grants to states, the crux of the Graham-Cassidy, told a crowd in Texas that he had changed his mind, but didn’t elaborate as to why. Meanwhile, Senator Rand Paul took to the Sunday shows to reiterate that he’s against the bill because he believes block grants would foster infighting over funding between the states.

Some of the changes, which come as the Sept. 30 expiration of the fast-track provision that forestalls a Democratic filibuster, are designed to appeal to moderate holdouts like Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, while others appeared tailored to lure conservative skeptics like Rand Paul of Kentucky. Trump has vowed to win the support of the Kentucky senator, although some theorize that, since the current system is popular in Paul’s home state, that he will invent libertarian-sounding objections to any bill the Republicans present.

Bill Cassidy and Lindsey Graham

But even if GOP leadership manages to change a handful of votes, the bill’s chances of passing remain low, virtually guaranteeing that the Republicans will be forced to accept the status quo after seven years of campaigning to scrap Obamacare. And although the GOP could still try to resurrect the health-care effort later this year, the effort’s collapse will raise serious doubts about Congressional Republicans’ ability to win legislative battles on behalf of the president.

As Bloomberg points out, even Trump appeared to concede that the outlook for repeal isn’t great, admitting as much during a press conference with reporters.

“Eventually we will win on that. My primary focus, I must tell you – has been from the beginning, as you can imagine – is taxes.”

Indeed, the administration appears to already be ceding ground on taxes after leaked highlights from the bill suggested that Republicans would shoot for a 20% corporate tax rate after Trump had called for 15%.

Meanwhile, the new version of Graham-Cassidy partially tries to win over holdouts by offering more federal funding for their states, including multiple provisions offering more money to Lisa Murkowski, or “Lisa M”’s Alaska. The revised bill also includes changes to controversial provisions about pre-existing conditions coverage.

Under the revised version, states would have to describe how their health plans "shall maintain access to adequate and affordable health insurance coverage for individuals with pre-existing conditions." The original language said each state had to show how it "intends" to have adequate and affordable access to coverage.

 

The bill continues, however, to give states broad new authority to allow insurance companies to provide skimpier plans with far fewer benefits while charging higher premiums to the sick and the old.

Under the new version, states could let insurers impose deductibles that are higher than the limits set by the Affordable Care Act, or remove the health law’s limits on the costs that an individual family can incur in a year entirely. They could also offer coverage that lacks some of the ACA’s benefits, such as maternity care, prescription drugs or mental health. Plus, states could let insurers widen the gap between how much old people and young people are charged. And states could remove requirements that insurers cover preventive-health treatments and immunizations.

Democrats were quick to criticize the bill.

“Despite an attempt to appear to add money for a select few states, this bill is just as bad for those states and the rest of the states because it still contains a massive cut to Medicaid, and would throw our health insurance system into chaos while raising premiums,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement late Sunday.

The health-care industry, another group that opposes Graham-Cassidy, mobilized on Sunday to convince senators who are on the fence not to vote for the bill.

The bill provoked an unusually strong backlash from the health-care industry as well. Groups representing doctors, hospitals and insurers signed a letter Saturday urging the Senate to reject the Graham-Cassidy bill.

 

The groups said the bill would undermine protections for patients with pre-existing conditions, result in dramatic cuts to Medicaid and “drastically” weaken the individual insurance markets. The letter was signed by the American Medical Association, the American Academy of Family Physicians, the American Hospital Association, and America’s Health Insurance Plans, which represents major insurers.

Republicans might have another shot at repealing some of Obamacare’s more controversial provisions later this year when they adopt a budget resolution that could allow room for Obamacare repeal provisions, although trying to combine the two complicated policies might make the overall package even harder to pass.

Senate Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch of Utah said last week that there’s a “chance” of pairing taxes with health-care provisions. “But it’s not easy,” he added.

Mitch McConnell still needs to decide whether to call for a vote on Graham-Cassidy.

McConnell still has to decide whether to go through with a vote, which would likely happen Wednesday. While Trump has urged GOP leaders to make every possible effort to repeal Obamacare, some Republicans will be reluctant to take a vote on a bill that many privately are uncomfortable with.

A CBO analysis of the bill is expected later Monday.

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office will release a partial analysis of the Graham-Cassidy proposal as early as Monday. It will examine the proposal’s impact on the federal deficit, but a full review of the effect on U.S. health coverage and costs won’t be ready for weeks. The Senate Finance Committee will hold the only hearing on the bill Monday afternoon, and it doesn’t plan to vote on the measure. Senate Republicans will have a private lunchtime meeting Tuesday, where GOP leaders can make a last plea for support.

The Brookings Institution estimated Friday that the Graham-Cassidy plan would reduce the number of people with health coverage by about 21 million a year from 2020 through 2026. The good news is that for all the twists and turns in this ongoing process, the fate of Obamacare repeal should be sealed by mid-week.

Comments

Gead Croesus Mon, 09/25/2017 - 08:31 Permalink

To quote the ever-prescient Arlo Guthrie...... these "father rapers and mother stabbers..." need to go. When I read that they were "...scrambling ..." to fix healthcare, I immediately thought "are you out of your minds?". Something so important, so integral to our national human condition and you want to 'scramble'?". Sweet Geeezzzuss!!! The only thing more 'scrambled' than that bright thought is McCain's brain (which news reports is close to coming to a final end - Thank You Lord!!!). I can't believe the lunacy of our government and that all those 'representatives' actually think or believe they are respected, doing the right thing, have a value above fertilizer.

In reply to by Croesus

swmnguy NickyGall Mon, 09/25/2017 - 09:20 Permalink

Indeed.  Some dishonest people point to obesity in America as if to say that there's no poverty in America, which is total bullshit as they well know.  The fact is, uneducated people tend to be poor, and poor people tend not to have as much money or free time as those who are not poor.  When you have to spend 2 hours a day on a city bus to get to a shitty job that only gives you 5-hour shifts, and then another 2 hours to get to and from a second shitty job that might only give you a 3-hr. shift, you've spent 12 hours to get 8 hours of low pay.  The food you can afford is full of salt, fat, sugar, and weird chemical formulations your body doesn't recognize and stores as fat, including High-Fructose Corn Syrup.  Carbohydrates are cheap.  That's why poor people tend to be fat, and why uneducated people tend to be both poor and fat.

In reply to by NickyGall

junction NickyGall Mon, 09/25/2017 - 10:05 Permalink

The United States now has a death epidemic going on that covers most of the population.  White high school graduates with alcohol or drug problems are the tip of the iceberg, as these guys statistical lifespan is shrinking.  Many hospitals are now staffed with doctors chosen not on the basis of competence and intelligence but on whether they fit the correct hiring profile (based on skin color, sex and national origin).  Obamacare is a skinny health insurance plan that financially encourages hospitals to treat patients with that insurance as money pits to be disposed of via death after minimal treatment.       

In reply to by NickyGall

swmnguy slightlyskeptical Mon, 09/25/2017 - 09:23 Permalink

Health insurance can't be sold across state lines because of the McCarran-Ferguson Act of 1947.  That bill was bought and has been protected ferociously for 70 years by the insurance industry.  It exempts insurance from federal Anti-Trust laws and supervision under the Interstate Commerce Clause.  Anybody trying to repeal the McCarran-Ferguson Act will find themselves on the wrong side of an enormous amount of Finance Sector money. For proponents of the private insurance industry to whine that they aren't allowed to compete across state lines is the equivalent of Bre'r Rabbit pleading, "Please don't throw me in the briar patch."

In reply to by slightlyskeptical

SDShack Herodotus Mon, 09/25/2017 - 13:17 Permalink

Correct, as long as any "healthcare reform" is based on insurance market factors, then we will continue to have exploding costs and shitty coverage. 0zer0care was nothing but an insurance company bailout, and any "reforms" will just redistribute more wealth to the same insurance companies. The only solution is to reduce the insurance/govt middlemen between the patient and care provider so they can't inflate profits to skim more and more and more. This does not mean Single Payer! That is the ultimate "middleman" because it will create a permanent Govt/Insurance nexus that will only be used to drive profits/taxes to the cabal with worse and worse patient care. At this point, the best solution is to do nothing and just let 0zer0care die on its own so real patient centered alternatives can be organically started and allowed to grow so they can show a viable alternative to the govt/private insurance nexus. Otherwise, the repukes will just tweak the system to allow more insurance company bailouts. 

In reply to by Herodotus

milo_hoffman Mon, 09/25/2017 - 08:18 Permalink

Only the Republican Party would be stupid enough to actually EXPAND a welfare program in a bill they claim is a repeal.

And only Republican voters are retarded enough to fall for it.

shimmy Mon, 09/25/2017 - 08:25 Permalink

This is such a clown show and these republicants need to just accept they aren't ever going to do the simple thing of getting rid of the current shitty system and move on. If obozocare is indeed doomed to implode on its own then let it. Quit wasting time tryng to come up with some shitty replacement and embarrassing yourselves in the process.It's amusing how pathetic these federal clowns are. Dumbcorats embarrass themselves by getting hysterical over every single thing president pumpkin does/says while pushing the Russia idiocy and republicants embarrass themselves at being so incredibly inept. 

Stan Smith Mon, 09/25/2017 - 08:30 Permalink

"Republicans scramble to come up with an excuse why they're doing nothing other than sopping up taxpayers money"Why have fucking elections anymore.Anyone who doesnt think we have functionally a one party system is high.

NoWayJose Mon, 09/25/2017 - 08:33 Permalink

The concept of block grants to states is a good one - allowing free spending states to go ‘cadillac’ while others hold their spending line. Rand is right there will be fighting over the size to each state - there is now with Alaska and Maine! But load it with extra cash, pass it, then re-adjust those Red states back down ( you will get Dems to support that).

NoWayJose Mon, 09/25/2017 - 08:41 Permalink

The problem with America’s healthcare is trying to figure out how half of the Americans (the taxpayers), can afford to pay for unlimited FREE healthcare for the other half!

DarthVaderMentor Mon, 09/25/2017 - 08:50 Permalink

The Senate and the House GOP will deliver nothing at all. The Democrat creators of the healthcare mess, with the notable exception of communist Bernie Sanders and his "single payer  bill (which the democrats have ignored), are just as incompetent as the GOP and look like deer staring at headlights. Trump will start his train up again through a series executive actions to shake things up. By George, the man is doing a great job against the Swamp. VOTE ANTI-INCUMBENT IN 2018! 

Sid Davis Mon, 09/25/2017 - 08:52 Permalink

Repeal and replace is a huge farce. This is Trumpcare, which simply is Obamacare wearing a little lipstick. These clowns have balls to claim they are doing what was promised. If they manage to pass it, the Republicans will be wearing this bill around their necks like an Albatross next election.

The fact that they think they can pass this off as repeal of Obamacare just shows how much contempt they have for the intelligence of the people who voted them in.

As is usual when government steps in, bend over and grab your ankles, because whether you fight or not, you are getting screwed.

silverer Mon, 09/25/2017 - 08:50 Permalink

The entire Congress is riddled with graft, corruption, immorality, dishonesty, and self gratification. There's maybe four or five that even attempt to do the job they're paid for. Many others don't even know what their job is. Don't expect any solution whatsoever to the mess that Obama launched, because they're all on board with government control of your life.

naro Mon, 09/25/2017 - 08:52 Permalink

The problem with American health care is that we are trying to figure out how to create an insurance product to pay for a system  that is vastly overpriced, crooked, corrupt, full of fraud and deceit.  Drug prices that are astronomically high because of corruption and greed.  Mandates that force insurance buyers to pay for nursing home, home care, and drug rehab centers that are almost invariably fraud laden, bloated and unnecesary for the vast majority of Americans.The President and the Senate would spend their time more effectively by taking serious steps to reduce the health care cost in America instead of figuring out how to pay for this fraud based system.

roadhazard Mon, 09/25/2017 - 08:54 Permalink

Repubicans need to tweet more about kneeling on the football field. I haven't heard one derogatory tweet from Congress about it, are they not Patriotic? They sure aren't doing anything about health care in America. Maybe they need to take a knee on the vote.

CRM114 Mon, 09/25/2017 - 09:38 Permalink

virtually guaranteeing that the Republicans will be forced to accept the status quo after seven years of campaigning to scrap Obamacare. And although the GOP could still try to resurrect the health-care effort later this year, the effort’s collapse will raise serious doubts about Congressional Republicans’ ability to win legislative battles on behalf of the president.

Well, they may have campaigned on that, but none of the legislation they've introduced has actually been a repeal of Obamacare. It's not about their ability to win battles, it's about whether their "efforts" are either genuine or competent. At the moment, it looks like neither. Here is a simple message for politicians and MSM everywhere. Nobody cares any more what you call things. You have perverted language so far that, in essence, we don't believe a word you say because we don't believe either you or your use of the words.So, Facta Non Verba. Do things, don't say things.

Versengetorix Mon, 09/25/2017 - 09:41 Permalink

McConnell is beyond pathetic.  The only thing voters need to ask Republican candidates running for the Senate is - will you or will you not, remove McConnell from a leadership position?