The U.S. Senate voted Tuesday to resurrect its plan to repeal Obamacare, prompting renewed fears among some home health care groups that thought the health care overhaul was on hold.
The Senate voted 51-50 to begin debating legislation to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (ACA), informally known as Obamacare. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence cast the tie-breaking vote after two Republicans, Maine’s Susan Collins and Lisa Murkowski of Alaska, voted against the motion to proceed with the discussion. No Senate Democrats voted in affirmation of the motion.
Despite Tuesday’s go-ahead vote, it’s not entirely clear what legislation the Senate will discuss or whether it will even be able to pass the bill it ultimately hammers out. Moderate and conservative Senate Republicans have engaged in a tug-of-war regarding whether previous pushes for health care reform did too much or too little.
Home health industry associations, such as the National Association for Home Care & Hospice (NAHC) and ElevatingHome, expressed dismay over earlier Republican health care plans that would slash Medicaid by about $770 billion. The groups said the cuts, if enacted, would negatively affect home- and community-based services (HCBS) providers.
Though it’s unknown if a new bill will contain similar deep cuts to Medicaid, ElevatingHome renewed its call for alarm on Tuesday afternoon.
“ElevatingHome opposes any legislative action that restricts access to care for vulnerable and home-based care patients,” Joy Cameron, vice president of policy and innovation at ElevatingHome, Home Health Care News. “The proposals set forth by the Senate and House to repeal the ACA would negatively impact seniors, older Americans and people with disabilities and their health care providers.”
NAHC was equally wary of Tuesday’s push to gut Obamacare.
“The next steps in this effort are very unclear,” Bill Dombi, vice president for law at NAHC, told HHCN. “We will continue to press that no bill should include the massive Medicaid reform that is in the House bill and that access to home care must be protected.”
LeadingAge, an association representing non-profit senior care providers, including HCBS providers, also railed against the Senate’s move.
“We are deeply disappointed that the Senate has decided to move forward with a measure whose contents are unknown to most senators,” the group told HHCN. “We strongly support a process that encourages public input and transparency. We continue to urge Congress to reject Medicaid per capita caps, which would be devastating to the millions of Americans who need long-term services and supports.”
The Senate is expected to debate and discuss repeal and replacement efforts throughout the week.
Written by Tim Regan
Screenshot via CSPAN