GOP rift over Medicaid and opioids imperils Senate health bill

Republicans accused Democrats of the same kind of backroom deal-making seven years ago when they were working on Obamacare.

The areas senators say are still under discussion include: when to begin to unwind the health care law's Medicaid expansion, what yearly growth rate to put on the entitlement program, how generous to make the tax credits to help individuals afford insurance, whether to include anti-abortion provisions and what to do with the plethora of taxes included in the law.

Senate Republican leadership plans to release the text of the bill on Thursday.

Republican Senator Rand Paul is slamming the effort by his Kentucky colleague, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.

The House passed its version of the bill, the American Health Care Act, last month after pulling it twice from a floor vote in April amid strong opposition by the conservative Freedom Caucus.

President Donald Trump campaigned on a promise to repeal Obamacare.

"I think that bill was mean and I think that bill would lead to loss of coverage that would be bad for pretty much everybody in the system", he said.

He fiercely opposed the House version, and McConnell likely won't look to him for support, which means he'll need nearly every other Senate Republican to vote in favor of the measure.

A draft of the bill is expected to be released tomorrow, and a vote could happen before the July 4th. recess.

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Trump's comment was made just before the shooting at the GOP Congressional baseball practice last week, so it hasn't gotten as much media attention as would normally be expected, but Senate Democrats are making sure that such a ideal moment doesn't get swept under the rug.

McConnell, the Senate majority leader, is viewed inside the White House and around Washington as a master of the Senate, someone who knows his caucus and what it will take to get a bill passed. John Barrasso, R-Wyoming, told CNN's Wolf Blitzer on Wednesday afternoon.

For the senators now crafting the Obamacare replacement, it matters little what is in the plan or what its effects will be.

Earlier Wednesday, conservative Sen. They're all going to oppose it, but they can't ultimately stop it from eventually getting an up-or-down vote. Given the abysmal poll numbers, it's safe to say that the American people don't support this bill.

Senator John Thune of South Dakota and Majority Whip John Cornyn exited a meeting of the Senate GOP caucus Tuesday afternoon and told reporters that there is now no consensus among members on what the final version of the bill ought to look like.

Democrats are increasingly anxious that McConnell will jam the bill through the Senate with little debate, limiting their chance to scrutinize the bill and whip up opposition against it.

But Republicans aren't doing any of that in this case because there is only one policy detail that really matters to the GOP- and that is producing a bill that will eliminate two taxes on the richest Americans.

The Senate has not held any public hearings on their health care bill (the House did), senators involved in the talks have been tight-lipped on the substance, and the public will only have a few days to see it before it gets a vote.

(Copyright © 2015. All Rights Reserved.)
 
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