Health Care Update

As you all know, the health care debate is heating up again in the Senate and we wanted to be sure to send you an update as well as a flyer that you can use with members with a toll free number that can be used to call Senators.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) is bearing down to finalize a health care bill and move it to the Senate floor.  The Senate bill will largely track the House bill, but McConnell is negotiating with Senate moderates and conservatives over some details on Medicaid, in order to nail down his votes.  Below is a summary of where we are with process and timing, policy, and the politics, and also next steps.

Process and Timing

McConnell is trying to get the policy nailed down so that it can be sent to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) early this week for an official estimate of the impact on the federal budget and the number of people who will lose their coverage – in fact we are hearing reports that CBO received policy today.  CBO will need ten days to two weeks to score the bill.  Once there is a CBO score, the bill can be put on the floor.  McConnell wants to hold the floor debate during the week of June 26.

 

Policy Highlights

One area of negotiation is over how quickly the bill ends the Medicaid expansion.  Conservatives want the expansion terminated in 2020, moderates want it phased out over a few years, beginning in 2020.

The bill will include the Medicaid per capita cap funding structure, but there is a question over the annual adjustment.  The annual adjustment will be lower than the increase in health care costs, but it is not clear how much lower.

The bill may have more generous tax credits for older people buying Affordable Care Act coverage in an exchange.  But, the tax credits for young people may be reduced.

The Senate bill may keep community rating rules that prohibit plans from charging people with pre-existing conditions higher premiums.  But the Senate bill would allow states to waive essential health benefit requirements, allowing insurance companies to screen out sick people by excluding certain benefits.

The bill may create a pot of money for opioid treatment, but it won’t make up for the millions who will lose their health coverage.

 

Politics

Three Senate moderates stated this week that they are willing to go along with an end to the Medicaid expansion, if it is phased out gradually between 2020 and 2024.  Those Senators are Dean Heller (NV), Rob Portman (OH) and Shelley Moore Capito (WV).  This has created a boost of momentum for McConnell.  He doesn’t have the votes yet, but a deal is more likely.  There are 52 Republicans in the Senate.  McConnell needs 50 of their votes, plus the tie-breaking vote of the Vice President.

You can use the attached flyer and toll free # to encourage members to call their Senators. Below is the target list we are working with but even Democratic Senators need calls to thank them for their support in protecting ACA and Medicaid. The communications department will be pushing calls via text to targeted Senators this week and we are increasing our activity on social media.

 

Call Sen. Rob Portman today and tell him to vote NO.

Washington, D.C.: 202-224-3353

Columbus: 614-469-6774

Cleveland: 216-522-7095

Cincinnati: 513-684-3265

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Phone: 614-841-1918
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