New Draft of Health Care Bill Maintains Medicaid Cuts

Republicans unveiled a new version of their health care bill in the Senate on Thursday.

Several major amendments have been made to the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), but the bill still contains deep cuts to Medicaid funding over the next decade.

Medicaid Funding Worries

The biggest uproar about the Republican plan has originated from its deep cuts to Medicaid, which were estimated to top $800 billion over a span of about 10 years. The new version maintains major cuts to the federal program.

The new draft of the bill also includes fundamental changes to Medicaid financing, as written in previous versions.

Numerous health care industry groups—including home health care associations—have decried the cuts. Medicaid expansion under the Affordable Care Act (ACA) has increased access to home- and community-based services for many Americans over the past several years, as well as boosted insurance coverage for 500,000 caregivers, according to research from the Paraprofessional Healthcare Institute (PHI), a group that advocates for the direct care workforce.

Amendments 

Some of the biggest changes in the new version of the bill include what is being dubbed “The Cruz Amendment,” which essentially enables insurance companies to offer lower-cost plans with less coverage by eliminating the essential health benefits requirement in the ACA. The amendment was put forth by Texas Republican Sen. Ted Cruz.

The bill also includes $45 billion to aid the opioid addiction crisis that has taken hold in several states, and $70 billion in additional funding to help Americans pay for insurance plans. The new draft keeps ACA taxes in effect.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is resolute to pass an Obamacare replacement plan; he even stated that the Senate would remain in session instead of breaking for a long, two-week recess in August.

At least two Republican Senators—Rand Paul (R-KY) and Susan Collins (R-ME)—said they were still “not swayed” enough by the bill’s changes to confirm their votes, The New York Times reported. Republicans need at least 50 votes to pass the bill, with Vice President Mike Pence casting the tie-breaking vote in affirmation. The party currently holds 52 seats in the Senate, and can only afford to lose two votes for the bill to pass.

The bill is expected to come to a vote next week. However, scheduled votes on the bill have been forfeited previously, including one just prior to the July 4 holiday.

Written by Amy Baxter

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