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Senate GOP Healthcare Working Group Hits Early Snags

Image: Senate GOP Healthcare Working Group Hits Early Snags
Sen. Bill Cassidy (AP)

By    |   Monday, 15 May 2017 09:30 AM

Despite public statements from Republican senators about "productive meetings" to produce a bill in the upper chamber to repeal and replace Obamacare, a GOP aide familiar with the negotiations said those involved are "much less optimistic that something will get done" following last week's discussions, CNN reported on Monday.

Following last week's meetings of the GOP's healthcare working group, a body of 13 senators discussing changes to the House bill with the goal of appealing to both conservatives and centrists in the Republican Party, it was clear that the senators are encountering some of the same difficulties that hindered the efforts of the House in passing their legislation.

This despite assurances from Health and Human Services Secretary Tom Price on Hugh Hewitt's radio show that Senate Republicans will repeal Obamacare before they break for August recess.

Although the discussions are still in an early stage, some predictions appear to have been mistaken, according to CNN, such as that the House bill would have to become more moderate to pass the Senate.

Conservatives are pushing their argument that in order to lower premiums, the Senate version of the bill will have to get rid of as many Obamacare regulations as the House legislation did.

Texas Sen. Ted Cruz admitted that the task is not going to be easy, but emphasized to CNN that "the conversations we are having are productive. We are seeing senators across the ideological spectrum, working to try to get to 'yes,' and that is exactly the inclusive process that we have to employ if we are going to get to a bill that commands the support of 50 senators."

On the other side of the ideological divide among Republicans is a bill drafted by Sens. Susan Collins and Bill Cassidy, which, according to The Hill, would keep Obamacare's current taxes and give states the option to remain with Obamacare or to form something different while continuing to receive federal funding.

Since no Democrats are expected to support any healthcare bill, Cassidy told The Hill that "when you only have 52 [Republican] senators, everybody has significant leverage. That tight vote margin means everyone is essential."

Another point of contention among Republicans is Medicaid, with moderate senators seeking a more gradual reduction in federal payments for Medicaid expansion to replace the abrupt cut-off stipulated in the House bill.

Making this such a crucial debate for the GOP is the fact that 20 Republican senators hail from states that expanded Medicaid, meaning the House version of the bill would significantly hamper the healthcare currently available in those areas.

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Despite public statements from Republican senators about "productive meetings" to produce a bill in the upper chamber to repeal and replace Obamacare, a GOP aide familiar with the negotiations said those involved are "much less optimistic...."
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2017-30-15
Monday, 15 May 2017 09:30 AM
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