Archive for Thursday, July 13, 2017

McConnell releases new health bill with Ted Cruz plan; will GOP senators support it?

July 13, 2017, 9:57 a.m. Updated July 13, 2017, 12:06 p.m.


WASHINGTON — Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell released his new but still-reeling health care bill Thursday, bidding for conservative support by letting insurers sell low-cost, skimpy policies and reaching for moderates with added billions to combat opioid abuse and help states rein in consumers' skyrocketing insurance costs.

However, allowing insurers to offer bare-bones plans threatens to alienate moderates and perhaps other conservatives. And the measure retains cuts in Medicaid — the health insurance plan for the poor, disabled and nursing home patients — that moderate Republican senators have fought.

The legislation, the Senate GOP's plan for rolling back much of President Barack Obama's health care law, faces a do-or-die vote next week on which McConnell has no margin for error. Since Democrats uniformly oppose the effort, McConnell needs the votes of 50 of the 52 GOP senators to prevail, and two seem certain to vote "no" — conservative Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky and moderate Sen. Susan Collins of Maine.

Conservative Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, has demanded language letting insurers sell plans with minimal coverage, as long as they also sell policies that meet strict coverage requirements set by Obama's 2010 statute. Moderate Republicans have objected that the idea would make policies excessively costly for people with serious illnesses because healthy people would flock to the cheaper coverage.

Sen. Mike Lee of Utah, who'd partnered with Cruz, tweeted that the version they crafted wasn't put in the bill, adding, "Something based on it has, but I have not seen it or agreed to it."

Adding to the uncertainty, the Cruz provision appeared in the legislative text in brackets, meaning specific language was still being composed. That could give McConnell, Cruz and other conservatives time to work out a provision with broader support.

The retooled measure retains McConnell's plan to phase out the extra money 31 states have used to expand Medicaid under Obama's statute, and to tightly limit the overall program's future growth. Since its creation in 1965, the program has provided open-ended federal funds to help states pay the program's costs.

The rewritten package would add $70 billion to the $112 billion McConnell originally sought that states could use to help insurers curb the growth of premiums and consumers' other out-of-pocket costs.

It has an added $45 billion for states to combat the misuse of drugs like opioids. That's a boost over the $2 billion in the initial bill and an addition demanded by ok

Republicans from states in the Midwest and Northeast that have been ravaged by the drugs.

To help pay for the added spending, the measure would retain three tax increases Obama's law slapped on higher- earning people to help finance his law's expansion of coverage. Under the current statute, families earning more than $250,000 annually got a 3.8 percent boost on their investment income tax and a 0.9 percent increase in their payroll tax. Obama also imposed a new tax on the salaries of high-paid insurance executives.

The revised bill would also allow people to use money from tax-favored health savings accounts to pay health insurance premiums, another favorite proposal of conservatives.

McConnell's new bill offered only modest departures from the original version, which he yanked off the Senate floor two weeks ago to avoid certain defeat at the hands of a broad range of unhappy Republicans.

The reworked measure's key elements remain. It would ease Obama's requirements that insurers cover specified services like hospital care, erase Obama's penalties on people who don't buy coverage and make federal health care subsidies be less generous.

In an interview Wednesday with the Christian Broadcasting Network's "The 700 Club," President Donald Trump said he will be "very angry" if the Senate fails to pass the health care measure and said McConnell must "pull it off."

Paul told reporters the revised measure has nothing "remotely resembling repeal."

Collins has long complained the measure will toss millions off coverage. Spokeswoman Annie Clarke said Collins would vote "no" next week "if the Medicaid cuts remain the same" as those that have been discussed.

Besides Paul and Collins, other Republican senators have also been noncommittal on whether they will back McConnell's bill next week, including Tim Scott of South Carolina and Rob Portman of Ohio.


Phillip Chappuie 8 months, 1 week ago

Cruz's idea is reminds me of being young and broke and going down to the gas station and buying a used tire with no tread. Just a waste of money. Most of us have to get hit by a train first to ever get past the deductibles these days. Single payer universal coverage is the only solution that will ever work. Just like all the rest of the first world civilized nations.

Ken Lassman 8 months, 1 week ago

All of this drama, effort and hoopla for another one party healthcare plan???? Why do the Republicans think this is any more acceptable than the one party healthcare plan that they loathe and refuse to even come near?

Until there is shown a willingness to start over with a bipartisan plan, this is just so much bluster. Better to patch the holes that the Republicans put into Obamacare in order to keep it going until some bipartisan legislation is crafted than to accept this truly offensive legislation that as far as I can tell STILL caps Medicaid at the expense of reasonable healthcare for the disabled, aged and working poor. It STILL puts healthcare into the ERs across the country for millions who are getting some kind of coverage with the current policies.

Carol Bowen 8 months, 1 week ago

Junk insurance plans cost a lot and cover nothing.

Carol Bowen 8 months, 1 week ago

The biggest problem with health care is the cost. There is nothing in this bill that controls medical costs. In fact, it's an open ended gift for insurance companies, pharma, and services. If an operation can differ $100,000 at two different hospitals in the same city, why is that happening? Consumers cannot shop around or compare costs, because no one can tell you what the costs are until after the surgery. If a serious major medical event is needed, even a millionaire cannot afford it without a good insurance plan.

Where's the incentive to address the growing problem with allergies? There are whole aisles of allergy remedies. Sufferers have become self-medicating-over-the-counter-junkies. No break throughs, but lots of profits.

What about the patent wars and freedoms that allow the artificial increase of a drug cost by a factor of ten or higher?

What about life saving drugs that are not produced, because there is no profit in them?

What about insurance companies dictating a physician's recommendations?

Voucher systems allow costs to be open-ended. The consumer pays the difference. How would that work for Medicaid. Is Congress aware that Medicaid recipients are mostly children and the elderly?

Where in this bill have we made a career path for talented prospects to enter medicine affordably? We do not have enough doctors.

If someone cannot afford health insurance or buys junk health insurance, guess who pays the ER and hospital bills. That would be us.

What about tort reform that constrains the percentage of the attorneys take rather than limit the amount for a claimant?

Now, if some of my statements are off, feel free to enlightenment me. I find this healthcare bill worrisome.

Bob Summers 8 months, 1 week ago

The rich will get healthcare.

The poor will get what they don't pay for.

Now get in line behind the people that do the work that Americans will not do for a chance at medical care by a PA or and LPN.

Enjoy what the Liberal gave you. It's the best you will ever get.

P Allen Macfarlane 8 months, 1 week ago

So, even though the poor pay proportionately more in taxes than the rich, they are supposed to take what little they get from government? Your logic is amazing!

Bob Summers 8 months, 1 week ago

The poor do not pay their way in life.

"even though the poor pay proportionately more in taxes than the rich"

So all men are not created equal?

Why should some people not have to pay as much as others pay but expect the same service for paying less as those paying more?

Liberal logic 101. Maserati's should be the same price as a Yugo costs.

Greg Cooper 8 months, 1 week ago

The word logic does not fit with anything you say, Bob. Don't use it. It's insulting to the word.

Carol Bowen 8 months, 1 week ago

The health of our economy is referenced by the Consumer Price Index (CPI). The only way to increase buying power is to pay higher wages. Well, there is another thorn in spendable income, student loans.

Larry Sturm 8 months, 1 week ago

The republicans just keep flogging a dead horse. When the horse is dead beating him doesn't make him get up. If they would have spent all of the money that they have wasted over the last 7 years and made the ACA better we would have been better off.

Steve Hicks 8 months, 1 week ago

The question whether Republicans will support the "new, improved" healthcare bill comes down to politics. Why wouldn't it ? All Congresspeople are, first of all, politicians: we all know that.

That doesn't have to be a bad thing, if their basic operative belief is that doing good for their constituents will make them successful (i.e., re-electable) politicians. That is, after all, their job, and how American democracy is designed to work.

Many Republicans show, over and over again, that they function by the contrary core belief: that obeying party leaders and lobbyists will get them re-elected. Kansas' Pat Roberts is firmly in that camp.

Congresspeople acting for the good of their constituents is the right thing for them to do. Doing their job is the right thing. Following America's political tradition is the right thing.

Note too that knowing, and doing, "the right thing" is a moral question, and a moral choice.

It says a lot about the moral compass of Republican: more to the point, "conservative:" politicians that it's always in question if they will do the right thing.

Franz Bruyere 8 months, 1 week ago

The biggest problem is that this is based on 'insurance': Insurance companies are businesses... businesses are out to make money.

How can you make something affordable if the 'supplier' (insurance company) is out to make money?????

An insurance company charges a fee (premium) for possible future coverage. Any claims have to be paid from those fees, so any claims reduce the company's profit. When a lot of people are filing claims, the insurance company has to pay more out of their profit.

The ACA has allowed more people to get, and use, insurance, so that means the insurance company is paying out more 'profit' to cover those claims. This leads to less profit.

Don't let the insurance companies tell you they aren't making money, though... you can research and see that (read some of the articles where they have announced leaving the ACA... none of those say they weren't making money, just that they weren't making as much profit).

Remember, health insurance and auto insurance are the same... the more you use it, the more you pay. If you don't use it, it's free money (profit) to the insurance companies.

Insurance companies are behind all of this as they can't accept the idea of 'losing profit'. They lobby the government for more ways to make money and to stop any 'ideas' that will affect them.

Healthcare should not be tied to insurance... never should have been. Everyone should be able to just go to a Dr. when they need to without having to worry about paperwork, whether insurance will pay for it, how much of their deductibles have they paid, etc. If they need something more than general help, then a system can be set up for that.

This should be something we all pay for through our taxes... set up a certain percentage of deduction for health coverage (say 5% to 10% of gross income from every person). This goes into a universal healthcare fund that is used to pay for services.

Set up a 'fee' schedule and state that people can have the following services done with no further charge, then anything above that has specific payment amounts.

Insurance companies can sell 'supplemental' policies in case of major / catastrophic events that are above the coverage supplied.

May not be the best or most thought out idea but it's got to be better than what we have now (the 'for profit insurance scam') :(

Kendall Simmons 8 months, 1 week ago

Don't forget, though, that the insurance companies are ALSO against this stupid plan. And are making that VERY clear to the GOP.

Don Brennaman 8 months, 1 week ago

There is already a great plan for health care in place. It is the one that congress provides for themselves. Let's start with that model. Don't tell me can't when you mean won't.

Kendall Simmons 8 months, 1 week ago

And what plan would THAT be????? Since Members of Congress are required to buy their insurance through the exchanges.

Fred Whitehead Jr. 8 months, 1 week ago

The Republicans have been screaming for months now that the Affordable Care Act is imploding. And providing a great deal of assistance to this.

The Affordable Care Act was passed in the administration of President Obama (horrible!!!!!!!) and is the best plan so far to provide health coverage for all Americans. (Republican "conservatives" notwithstanding).

Health care costs money. I think that is what most of you in this forum have acknowledged. And people want free health care like most citizens of most of the civilized countries in the world provide. (No indication as to how they do this or what the quality of care is provided)

They do not want to pay for health care. But......way too many people lives utterly in contempt of healthy life style, such as smoking, drinking, drugs, and dangerous pastimes such as sky diving, etc.

But they do not want to pay, (or cannot afford to pay) for health care.

In order for the "government" to pay for everyone's health care there must be money. And the way government gets "money" is through "taxes". Horrors! Taxes!!!!!!

Every Republican decrys "Taxes"!!! So,,,,,,,,,,,we want universal health care provided by the government........and we do not want to pay for it.........and we do not want (horrors!!) TAXES!!

D'ya see the problem here?? Free health care ain't gonna happen no matter what new "plan" that "conservative" Republicans are going to spew out next. And as for (Horrors!!) TAXES to pay for figure it out.

Richard Heckler 8 months, 1 week ago

Why are conservatives throwing republicans, democrats, women, tea party thinkers, green party thinkers and children under the bus?

Former Lawmakers and Congressional Staffers Hired to Lobby At A Cost Of $1.4 million health care $$$$$ a day.

It’s The Medical Insurance Scam

Members of the house and senate have not put forth an affordable health insurance plan in 60 years.

Members of the house and senate instead allow the insurance industry to design whatever then pay back elected officials billions of campaign dollars over time ….those are health care dollars btw.

Taxpayers realize that the medical insurance industry is as corrupt as the mafia, President Trump, ALEC, too many in the house and senate and our election system.

Richard Heckler 8 months, 1 week ago

Members of the house and senate have not put forth a fair or affordable health insurance plan in 60 years.

Consumers deserve a choice not a dictate from the Hill on what we must do. Yes a choice not an order from the most corrupt government on planet earth.

Provide 3 choices: ALLOW THE CONSUMERS TO MAKE THE CHOICE! Let the voters decide! It's our money!

=== ObamaCare which retains the health insurance industry

=== Single Payer Medicare for ALL = excellent coverage for all who wish to subscribe.

Single-Payer (HR 676 and S 703) Expanded Medicare for All Vs. Proposed Healthcare “Private insurance with Public Option” ( very interesting findings)

=== Self financed health care for the financially fiscally fit if one wants to opt out.

Why are conservatives throwing republicans, democrats, women, tea party thinkers, green party thinkers and children under the bus?

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