The Senate Health Care Bill is Here (Updated 6/26)

Updated 6/26 with the latest CBO report findings.

The Senate Republicans’ health care bill (full text) was released today and it’s become very clear why it was written behind closed doors.

Below is a quick rundown.

What do I need to know?

The bill is very similar to the one passed by the House, a bill the President himself called “mean.” The official non-partisan CBO score of the Senate bill was very similar too: it found that an estimated 22 million Americans would lose their insurance by 2026 (as opposed to 23 million with the House bill). This number includes cutting enrollment in Medicaid by 15 million over the next year.

The bill does a few things:

  • Cuts taxes on the wealthy
  • Cuts Medicaid coverage for millions of the poorest Americans to finance those tax cuts
  • Allows states to waive the federal mandate on what qualifies as an essential health benefit
  • Defunds Planned Parenthood for a year
  • If your insurance lapses, and you lack coverage for 63 days or more, you must wait six months before purchasing a new plan

And the bill doesn’t just affect the individual market:

What if I get my health insurance through my employer?

The Republican bill hurts you too. Under the current health care law, there are bans on lifetime and annual limits on essential health benefits (hospitalization, prescription drugs, preventative screenings, etc.).

The new bill proposed by Republicans would instead let states decide what qualifies as an essential health benefit. So if a state chooses not to include maternity care as one of those benefits, limits could be imposed on coverage.

Even if your particular state didn’t change those benefits, you could still be affected if your company operates nationally. Let’s say your company has offices in multiple states. In theory, they could choose which state to base their benefits out of, meaning if they choose a state that allows for a waiver of the ACA ban on limits, then that rule will apply to all of their employees, no matter where they are based.

 

What will it take to pass/fail on the Senate floor?

50 votes. 50 votes are all it will take to strip millions of Americans of their health care.

With Vice President Pence serving as the tie breaking vote, three Republicans will have to vote against the bill to prevent its passing.

It’s worth noting that four Republicans, including Ted Cruz (TX), Rand Paul (KY), Ron Johnson (WI) and Mike Lee (UT) released a joint statement saying the bill – in its current form – is unacceptable. They leave the door open for negotiations though, so their statement may be nothing more than a negotiating tactic to try and include a more conservative agenda.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell wants to have a vote on the bill by the end of next week, prior to the July 4th recess. His decision leaves little time for debate. The time to call your senators is now. Even if you live in a state with a Democratic senator, call and let them know you expect them to do everything in their power to fight against this bill.

The House bill was estimated to cost 23 million Americans their health insurance. Even if the Senate’s bill only cost half that number, it would still be millions too many.

To take health insurance away from those that need it most flies in the face of human decency. This bill is cruel- actual lives are at stake all for the sake of making the rich richer. No one should stand for it. Contact your Senator today.

 

Further reading:

Full text of the Senate Republicans’ health care bill

 

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