Thursday, June 22, 2017

Senate Republicans Unveil Secretive Health Care Bill

teleSUR | Jun 22, 2017

Protesters gather during a demonstration against the Republican repeal of the Affordable Care Act in Washington, U.S., on June 21, 2017. | Photo: Reuters
The bill includes lower taxes on the wealthy and deep cuts to Medicaid.

U.S. Senate Republicans unveiled Thursday their health care bill that would replace President Barack Obama's signature health care law, proposing to kill a tax on the wealthy and reduce aid to the poor.

The 142-page proposal, worked out by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell with other Republican leaders in secret, would repeal the 3.8 percent net investment income tax on high-income Americans, which helps pay for Obamacare.

It also would dramatically cut and restructure Medicaid, the U.S.' public health insurance program for low-income people and people with disabilities.

President Donald Trump welcomed the bill, saying he wants a health plan "with heart" and adding that the final legislation would be “very good.” Trump made Obamacare repeal a centerpiece of his 2016 election campaign.

“Obamacare is dead, and we’re putting a plan out today that is going to be negotiated. We’d love to have some Democrats’ support, but they’re obstructionists,” Trump said Wednesday.

Democrats in the Senate are unified and determined to defend the the Affordable Care Act, criticizing Republicans for putting the bill behind closed doors without a single public hearing or bill-drafting session.

"The president said the House bill was mean, the Senate bill may be even meaner," Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer said, referring to the report that Trump privately called the health bill passed last month in the House of Representatives “mean.”

The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office has found that the House bill would leave 23 million more people without health care in a decade. The Senate version maintains much of the structure of the House bill, but with modest adjustments.

The Senate measures would phase out expansion of the Medicaid program for poor and disabled people over three years, from 2021 to 2024, and then enact deeper cuts in the program than the House version beginning in 2025.

However, it would preserve two of the ACA’s most-popular provisions: insurers could not deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions and children may stay on their parents’ plans until the age of 26. It would also offer more financial assistance to some lower-income people to get private health insurance.

A vote on the bill is planned for the end of next week before lawmakers leave Washington for the July 4 recess. With only 52 seats in the Senate, Republicans can only afford to lose two Republican votes to bypass a Democratic filibuster, with Vice President Mike Pence breaking the tie.

Four Republican senators, Rand Paul of Kentucky, Ted Cruz of Texas, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin and Mike Lee of Utah, already said they cannot support the bill as it's currently written.

“Currently, for a variety of reasons, we are not ready to vote for this bill, but we are open to negotiation and obtaining more information before it is brought to the floor,” they said in a statement.

“There are provisions in this draft that represent an improvement to our current health care system but it does not appear this draft as written will accomplish the most important promise that we made to Americans: to repeal Obamacare and lower their health care costs.”

Comment: Remember, Congress is a criminal organization, this has nothing to do with health, it is a method to make money or reduce costs in order to service corporations. There are no naturaopathic doctors, only drug pushers. The best health care is produced by you, not them.

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