Healthcare organizations criticize revised Senate bill for Medicaid, coverage cuts

Patrice Gainsbourg
Julho 17, 2017

Cruz's proposal is indicative of the dilemma Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky, faces in rallying a majority of Republicans to get behind the bill meant to replace the Affordable Care Act or Obamacare. John McCain's absence has left the Senate with no timetable for a vote to repeal and replace Obamacare, but some Republicans doubt the proposed health care bill has the votes to pass even with the upper chamber at full strength.

"There are few people tougher than my friend John McCain, and I know he'll be back with us soon", Mr. McConnell said in a statement Saturday.

The legislation would put limits on federal spending for Medicaid, a partnership program with states to cover low-income people, the disabled and nursing home residents.

White House spokeswoman Helen Aguirre Ferre declined to say whether the president made calls to senators over the weekend on the health care bill.

Two of the 52 Republicans who control the 100-member Senate - Susan Collins of ME and Rand Paul of Kentucky - have already voiced objection to the motion. And now with McCain staying home, the GOP leadership is less likely to gain 50 votes, a threshold to begin debate on the legislation.

McCain has expressed concern about the health care bill, but has not said how he would vote.

Cover: Senator Susan Collins, a Republican from ME, speaks to members of the media in the basement of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, D.C., U.S., on Tuesday, June 27, 2017.

But Cornyn's protestation rings hollow given the unprecedented secret process Senate Republicans used to draft the bill, which barred any Democratic input.

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The American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network released a statement after the bill was unveiled, saying the proposal "would make it harder for those affected by cancer to access affordable and quality health care coverage". The Senate bill makes a common-sense change on how states get the money.

Earlier this week, the Indiana Association of Public Schools, the Indiana Rural Schools Association and several school districts wrote Senate leaders saying 140 school districts in the state received $12 million in Medicaid funding a year ago. The group urged senators to reject the revised BCRA and to focus instead on small group and individual insurance market reforms it said are needed in many states. Rand Paul of Kentucky have said they plan to vote "no" on the procedural vote next week.

Cruz would change basic requirements that Obama's law imposed on individual plans, including standard benefits such as pregnancy, maternity and newborn care; wellness visits and mental health treatment.

"We think it is unworkable", said Justine Handelman, top Washington lobbyist for the BlueCross BlueShield Association.

When Congress convened in January, Republicans appeared to be on course to repeal the Affordable Care Act within a month or two, but their project met with growing resistance as lawmakers, consumers, doctors, hospitals and insurance companies scrutinized the proposals.

30%: How many non-elderly adult Medicaid beneficiaries say they're in fair or poor health, according to Kaiser, and many have preventable or controllable conditions.

Historically, Medicaid is a "shared" costs program with the states and the federal government each paying about half its expenses.

The Senate health care plan shores up these collapsing Obamacare markets that threaten to leave millions of Americans with no affordable options for health care. Analyses by the Congressional Budget Office have found the House bill and the earlier Senate version both would eliminate insurance coverage for more than 20 million people over the next decade. Moderate Republicans have objected that that would make policies excessively costly for people with serious illnesses because healthy people would flock to the cheaper coverage.

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