Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Healthcare Bill Not Ready for Prime Time


Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell tells reporters his plan to kill the Affordable Care Act isn’t ready for a vote.

If Americans have learned anything about politics since the advent of the Donald Trump presidency and Republican dominance of Congress, it is that campaign promises do not equate to progress, especially when it comes to healthcare. Republican leadership in both houses – in particular Mitch McConnell in the Senate, Paul Ryan in the House, and President Trump himself, have given America the most unpopular piece of major legislation Congress has considered in decades.
The first fact to keep in mind is that legislation presented so far in both chambers is not about healthcare. It is about spending, and more specifically about reductions in spending for established federal programs including Medicaid and CHIP that provide healthcare and related services to a degree that would affect one in five Americans. Medicaid alone, for example, covers most of the 1.4 million Americans in nursing homes. The Senate version of “repeal and replace” of the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) is nothing more than a set of changes in the House version that was rammed through approval May 24. McConnell was unable to muster the necessary support to assure passage, and has thus put off a vote until after the July 4 recess. Even if the bill is approved, however, it would then go back to the House, where additional amendments would almost certainly be needed to win majority acceptance.


The New York Times

CNBC reported results of an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll released June 27 showing only 17 percent of Americans support the Senate proposal, while 55 percent disapprove. Even President Trump “appeared confused” about the reality that the bill is not about healthcare, but about tax cuts for the very rich and less spending on actual health programs that are already in place. About 24 percent of those surveyed said they did not know enough about the plan to give an opinion.
Only 17 percent of Americans approve of the Senate GOP's Better Care Reconciliation Act, versus 55 percent who disapprove, according to an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll released Tuesday. Some 24 percent of respondents said they had not heard enough about it to have an opinion.
A significant “black hole” in the 142-page bill is uncertainty over what individual states would do with a new ability to drop many of the benefits assured under the Affordable Care Act, such as mental health treatment, maternity care, and emergency services. The Senate version does provide somewhat more help for some lower-income people to offset the rapidly rising cost of private health insurance. But the subsidies for insurance help are far less than the current program, and would involve a lower annual income limit for subsidy eligibility, to 350 percent of the poverty level, or about $42,000 for an individual, from 400 percent.
To learn more about how you can help protect your healthcare, click here.

Resources:
Listen to the NPR interview with Kaiser Family Foundation President Drew Altman on the impact of the Senate’s healthcare proposal here.
The Washington Post report on the Senate healthcare proposal’s prospects being even worse than first thought is here.
The Washington Post “live” report on the initial Senate healthcare bill announcement is here.
The draft released by the Senate, in PDF format, is here.
The Congressional Budget Office “scoring” of the Senate’s proposal is here.
The New York Times report on the Senate bill’s impact on elderly Medicaid recipients is here.
l The CNBC report on an NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll taken from June 21 to 25 is here.
The Kaiser Foundation’s state-impact assessment of American health care protection is here.
The New York Times video summary of the selling of the Senate healthcare plan, shown above, is here.


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