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The Seante narrowly passed
the motion to move forward
on the healthcare bill
by Nathan'ette Burdine: July 25, 2017
 


The Senate narrowly passed the motion to proceed to debate on the American Healthcare Act.

The vote was mostly on party lines with 46 Democrats, 2 Independents, and 2 Republicans voting against the bill. As a result of the 50-50 split, Vice President Mike Pence came down and cast the tie vote; which passed the motion.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (KY) continues to face an uphill battle in getting the final bill passed.

Several senators have expressed doubts about voting for the bill. The two major roadblocks are the Medicaid cuts and Obamacare not being fully repealed.

The more moderate Senators like Susan Collins (ME) and Lisa Murkowski (AK), who both voted against the motion today, expressed concern about the Medicaid cuts while Senator Rand Paul (KY) has concerns about Obamacare not being fully repealed.

Along with the senators, Republican governors John Kasich (OH) and Brian Sandoval (NV) have warned that drastic cuts to Medicaid will add a greater financial burden on their states’ budgets and leave several people without insurance.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) and The Joint Committee on Taxation (JCT) released another report showing that if the Republican healthcare bill is passed the deficit will decrease by a net amount of $420 billion by the year 2026.

The deficit reduction will result from Medicaid cuts. However, the Medicaid cuts plus the people who will be taken off of Obamacare will leave 22 million people uninsured in 2026; which is the same number of people uninsured under the Senate’s first bill that was removed.

The Senate majority leader has argued that the cost of keeping Obamacare in place will be greater than the benefits.

As evidence, McConnell cites the increase premiums that have led to insurance companies pulling out of the exchange markets and therefor leaving folks without insurance.

However, Cynthia Cox and Larry Levitt of the Kaiser Foundation do not believe the increase in premiums will lead to a mass exodus of insurance companies from the Obamacare exchange markets.

Cox and Levitt reported that although insurers struggled in 2014 and 2015, the increase in premiums and decrease in claims being paid out is helping insurers to break even and therefor remain on the exchanges.

Another obstacle McConnell faces in getting the Republican healthcare bill passed is that only 13 people know what’s in the bill; something which Senator John McCain spoke about during his speech on the senate floor today.

McCain told his fellow Republican senators that by having only leadership and the White House working on the bill, they’re going down the same path that led the Democrats to pass Obamacare; which was unpopular at the time.

Senator John McCain did warn that although he voted for the motion to proceed, he will not vote for the bill if there aren’t any changes that are in-line with what his governor, Doug Ducey (AZ), has requested.

And what Ducey has requested is that there be no cuts to Medicaid. Ducey is quoted as saying to The Washington Post, “We’re a Medicaid expansion state. I’m happy with the way it is in Arizona.”

The Republicans do have the option of working with the Democrats who have made it clear that their line in the sand is a complete repeal of Obamacare.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (NY) said that if President Donald Trump and the Republicans hope to have success on the healthcare bill then they need to stop allowing the Tea Party-Freedom Caucus wing of their party to pull them too far to the right.

Schumer said to The Washington Post, “Sit down with Republicans. I welcome it-even though they’ve (Freedom Caucus) got a lot of power with all of those funding groups-they’re not where America is at. I hope the lesson that both the administration and the senate leadership get out of this is kowtowing to this hard-right group is not going to succeed and that’ll be true with tax reform or infrastructure or anything else.”

Both McCain and Schumer are correct in that not reaching across the aisle is not helping either party.

According to a recent Rasmussen poll, a majority of folks have lost confidence in their Republican and Democratic congressional members.




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