Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Senate Republican leaders released a newer version of the healthcare bill to repeal and replace Obamacare on Thursday, which they hope will be more acceptable to moderate and conservative holdouts.
One revision of the bill includes Sen. Ted Cruz’s (R-TX) “Consumer Freedom Amendment” that would allow individuals to purchase private health insurance that’s not Obamacare compliant. This amendment is specifically targeting millennials to buy insurance. These no-frill plans are considered to be more stripped down with fewer benefits to keep costs down. However, it may conflict with Congress’s plan regarding keeping coverage in place for those with pre-existing conditions, and it could raise prices on older, sicker individuals.
Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT), who’s a close Cruz ally, tweeted that he’s currently withholding judgement over the bill until further review. He could be one of the main holdouts as McConnell looks to get at least 50 votes in the Senate to pass reconciliation. McConnell could only afford to lose two senators.
While Republicans work to whip up votes, the new Senate healthcare bill, at first glance, looks closer to Obamacare than the version that preceded it. Apart from getting rid of the individual and employer mandates, the revised bill would provide an additional ~$70 billion (on top of the $100 billion proposed) for states to use to reduce premiums and out-of-pocket costs.
Insured individuals can start to make use of their Health Savings Accounts or receive a federal tax credit to pay for premiums, which certainly helps millennials who need insurance and have a harder time finding a job out of college. There’s also a provision that funds opioid treatment that’s killed over 20,000 people in 2015.
While Republicans like Ted Cruz, who initially held out his vote in favor of a better bill, are supportive of this new revised bill, Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) remains none too pleased.
“I remember a lot of outrage about two things when I first ran for office: Obamacare and the bank bailouts. Unfortunately, the Senate healthcare bill combines the worst of those two — this time, we’re bailing out the big insurance companies,” Paul wrote in an op-ed published in the Washington Examiner.”The current Senate GOP healthcare bill creates a giant insurance bailout superfund of nearly $200 billion.”
Paul continued. “The one certainty of the Senate GOP health plan is that it guarantees a profit for Big Insurance. The same Big Insurance that takes in about $15 billion in profit annually.”