New GOP health-care bill retains much of old

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that he will try for a vote on the bill next week.

Joyce Clark | Jul 17, 2017

Senate GOP leaders debuted a revised version of the Republican Obamacare-replacement bill Thursday, and analysts say that it resembles the original except but makes some small concessions to both Obamacare and to hard-right GOP lawmakers who want to repeal Obamacare in full. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell said that he will try for a vote on the bill next week.
The new bill retains Obamacare-related taxes on wealth individuals, on the one hand. On the other, it goes further than the original did to loosen health-insurance industry regulations.
McConnell's opponents on the original bill included Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.), who wants to do away with Obamacare's requirement that all health-insurance policies cover pre-existing conditions. The bill appeases Cruz and other conservatives by letting insurers sell policies that deny care for pre-existing conditions or charge more for it, as long as the insurers each sell at least one policy that offers comprehensive coverage and covers pre-existing conditions.
The bill also provides $182 billion over 10 years to states to stabilize their insurance markets and compensate insurers for the rising costs of enrolling and covering sicker patients. And it authorizes consumers to use health-savings account funds to pay health-insurance premiums and allows consumers of all ages to purchase "catastrophic" health insurance plans, which offer minimal coverage benefits, if they choose.
It remains to be seen if moderate GOP senators who also oppose the original bill will accept the new one. They include senators Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-West Virginia) had expressed concern about reduced Medicaid coverage under the original bill. The new one offers no new provisions that address this specific issue.
The bill has the endorsement of President Trump, however. He said Wednesday that he will be "very angry" if Republicans do not pass a health-care bill.
"It has to get passed. They have to do it. They have to get together and get it done," he said.

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