Senate health legislation slows but worsens cuts in support for health coverage | Arkansas Blog

Thursday, June 22, 2017

Senate health legislation slows but worsens cuts in support for health coverage

Posted By on Thu, Jun 22, 2017 at 7:04 AM

Details are finally emerging on the Senate health care bill thanks to copies of the draft slipped to lobbyists (no swamp draining yet).

The news is not good. The bill slows the process of reducing Medicaid outlays but increases the total reductions over time and lowers the income cutoff for receiving federal support for working poor. It will allow service-restricting waivers by the states. In the course of reducing health coverage for poor people, the bill will cut taxes for rich people. In short, it is pretty much the House bill termed "mean" by Donald Trump with an even more damaging impact over time. Think of the frog in the slowly warming pot of water.

Here's the straight Washington Post account.

A discussion draft circulating Wednesday afternoon among aides and lobbyists would roll back the Affordable Care Act’s taxes, phase down its Medicaid expansion, rejigger its subsidies, give states wider latitude in opting out of its regulations and eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood.

The bill largely mirrors the House measure that narrowly passed last month but with some significant changes aimed at pleasing moderates. While the House legislation tied federal insurance subsidies to age, the Senate bill would link them to income, as the ACA does. The Senate proposal cuts off Medicaid expansion more gradually than the House bill,\ but would enact deeper long-term cuts to the health-care program for low-income Americans. It also removes language restricting federally subsidized health plans from covering abortions, which may have run afoul of complex budget rules.
The liberal Think Progress sharpens the analysis. Its bullet points (all with explanations in the article:

* The bill would strip health care coverage from millions of low income Americans by rolling back the expansion of Medicaid — and then making even deeper cuts.

* The bill would follow the Obamacare subsidy model, but help fewer people.

* The Senate bill is a massive tax cut for the rich.

* The bill will mean higher out-of-pocket medical costs for many people with insurance.

Medicaid spending will continue at existing levels for a couple of years, giving breathing room in an election season for Arkansas. But the future per capita spending plan could hold peril for Arkansas's generous Medicaid expansion, even with the cutbacks Gov. Asa Hutchinson already envisions.

Lots more to learn, but not a lot of time to learn it given the fast track plan of Senate Republicans for a bill developed in secret.

UPDATE: Here's the full text of the legislation. Read it fast. Republicans hope to vote next week.

Quickie response from the League of Women Voters:

The Better Care Reconciliation Act is even worse than the version we saw pass in the House of Representatives and is not worthy of this great nation. The cuts to Medicaid will be massive and will destroy the system that so many Americans rely on. This is a nasty bill that will hurt millions of Americans and we urge Senators to reject it.


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