Revised Senate Health Care Bill Offers Major Concessions To The Far Right, Gratuities To Moderates

The Changes To Coverage

Most significantly it swallows the so-called “Cruz amendment” hook, line and sinker. That allows health insurers to issue pretty much any type of policy they like, as long as they also offer one that complies with the health care law. Those new non-compliant policies could feature no coverage for preventive medicine, no essential health benefits, no coverage for pre-existing conditions, no coverage for prescription drugs.

The Washington Examiner has a somewhat dry list of the 9 Obamacare requirements insurers would no longer have to bother with under the Cruz plan, but it’s a good illustration of how brutal and stark it is. The best overall analysis we found is anything but dry: a Vox piece entitled “The new Senate health bill is terrible for anyone who is sick, has been sick, or will be sick”.

USAToday has a very good review of changes to the proposed bill in an FAQ format. The New York Times has an excellent analysis of what parts of Obamacare the new plan repeals outright, changes, or keeps.

The Politics

The President continued this morning to show support for a Republican bill, any bill, seemingly with complete disregard for what’s in it. Four Tweets (so far), and they’re all essentially the same: Republican Senators better “come through as they have promised” and he’ll be waiting for them, “pen in hand.

2 Republican Senators: Kentucky’s Rand Paul and Maine’s Susan Collins are, for now at least, confirmed “no” votes. For completely different reasons: Paul wants a down-and-dirty Obamacare repeal, and says this bill isn’t it. Collins feels it’s too harsh in its cuts to Medicaid and other programs. At least 7 other Republicans are undecided. But there’s a little time even if the vote is rammed through: the CBO needs a few days to look it over and revise impact estimates.

Some of the bait being used to lure reluctant Senators is very specific: for instance, a measure in the rewritten bill allows states with premiums 75% higher than the national average take 1% off the top of a $132-billion insurance stability fund. No coincidence Alaska is the only state that would qualify. And no coincidence Alaska Republican Senator Lisa Murkowski has been outspoken in her dissatisfaction with the way the Senate bill has been drafted.

The bill also includes the $45-billion in funds for opioid addiction treatment originally requested by Ohio’s Rob Portman, up from $2-billion in the original version.

And Once Again, Lawmakers Protect Their Health Better Than The General Public

Vox’s intrepid Sarah Kliff finds an obscure, almost indecipherable provision in the newest version of the bill that would require insurance companies to cover a wide array of benefits for members of Congress and their staffs, even if they can now offer plans without those benefits to everyone else.

(This story originally appeared in The Chaos Report newsletter. Sign up: https://thechaosreport.com/subscribe/?scr=Medium)

Like what you read? Give Eric J Scholl a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.