A little something for everyone
Thursday, the Senate Budget Committee released a revamped version of the Better Care Reconciliation Act, or the Senate’s version of the AHCA.
The Senate GOP’s first attempt (in this round of discussions) at the BCRA was met with mehs and groans across the caucus. A small contingent of conservative Senators opposed the bill saying it did little to repeal Obamacare. More moderate Republicans expressed concern over the bill’s promise to eventually cut Medicaid. And others advocated for scrapping the whole bill for a clean Obamacare repeal.
The BCRA is limited to the budget mechanism of reconciliation and we’re told, is a first step to the eventual repeal and replacement of Obamacare, not the end-game.
We’ll have a more detailed analysis after we’ve sifted through the bill (included beneath), but for now, here’s what NBC is reporting:
But changes designed to address concerns of both moderate and conservative Republicans who had different objections to the original bill are also in the new version, including a last-minute addition from Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas to allow individuals to purchase cheaper, skimpier health plans. It also keeps some of the Obamacare taxes on the wealthy as an enticement for moderate votes.
That inclusion is a win for conservatives who wanted more choices for consumers. Still, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, who had been working with Cruz on similar ideas, said that he was shut out of the final language and is unsure if this is something he can support at this time.
Changes include more funding to combat the so-called opiod crisis, as well as provisions for cheaper plans and more flexible health savings accounts (HSA):
Here is how the bill changes to appease moderates:
A $45 billion fund to help people with opioid addiction.
An extension of three Affordable Care Act taxes: the 3.8 percent tax on investments on the wealthy; a .9 percent surtax on Medicaid for the wealthy; and a tax on insurance executive’s compensation.
$70 billion to states to help stabilize the cost of health care and implement new reforms, bringing the total in this fund to $182.
Here is how the bill changes to appease conservatives:
Health Savings Accounts, which are accrued from pre-tax dollars, can be used to pay for health insurance premiums.
Catastrophic health plans would be offered and people could be eligible for tax credits to help pay for them.
A health plan with narrow coverage but cheaper premiums would be offered for people in the individual market.
“As before, it aims to stabilize and reform the collapsing insurance markets that have left too many with no options under Obamacare, and it aims to make insurance more affordable and more flexible so it’s something Americans actually want to buy,” said Senate Majority Leader McConnell in a statement.
Full bill text here:
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