GOP UNVEILS REVISED HEALTHCARE BILL AS BATTLE FOR PASSAGE RAGES ON

WASHINGTON, D.C.– The GOP on Thursday unveiled an updated version of the Replace and Repeal Act in an effort to convince Conservatives who are still sitting on the fence to jump on board with their answer to Obamacare.

Their efforts came to a screeching halt, however, as three Republican senators, Rob Portman (R-Ohio), Susan Collins, a moderate from Maine and conservative Rand Paul of Kentucky, announced that they were still not impressed by the revision.

With the revised bill, House majority leader, Mitch McConnell, (R)- Kentucky, had hoped to gain the 50 votes he needs to win Senate passage. But based on the reaction of some ultra right Republicans, the changes may not have been enough to bridge the gap between the Senate’s most staunch Conservatives, who have vowed to drive the current plan into the ground, and more moderate Republicans, who have worked to push the legislation through.

For the most part, the new version of the Bill gave broad concessions to right wing Republicans who had declared the initial draft too similar to the Affordable Care Act, which was passed under the Obama administration. Per the updates, Medicaid sections remain the same, meaning that deeper cuts to the program will still be on track to begin in 2025, and the funds for ObamaCare’s expansion of Medicaid will still end, as scheduled, in 2024. On the opposite end, The Bill includes new funding, $70 billion over seven years, aimed at easing costs for the chronically sick and seriously ill. The Bill also includes $45 billion to fight opioid addiction, but Senators such as Portman who hails from a state where opioid addiction runs rampant, say they also want changes to the Medicaid portion of the legislation.

Despite McConnell’s efforts to strike a fair balance, the result left both sides less than satisfied.

Senator Ted Cruz, (R)- Texas, who supported the changes in the new revision, expressed concern for the outcome of the Bill amid fallout from his fellow Conservatives.

“I think failing to get this done would be really catastrophic,” Mr. Cruz said on the radio station KFYI, “and I don’t think any of the Republican senators want to see failure come out of this.”

Seemingly unphased by Cruz’s open appeal, the three holdouts stood fast in their vow to delay a vote on the legislation.

“My strong inclination and current intention is to vote no on the motion to proceed,” Collins told reporters after leaving a hearing on the legislation.

“The only way I’d change my mind is if there’s something in the new bill that wasn’t discussed or that I didn’t fully understand or the CBO estimate comes out and says they fixed the Medicaid cuts, which I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

Read the updated changes to the Bill via the link below: https://www.scribd.com/document/353689897/BetterCareJuly13-2017#from_embed

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‘NOT ENOUGH’: EMBATTLED HEALTH CARE BILL ON LIFE SUPPORT AS ‘GANG OF 4’ OPPOSE PASSAGE

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The embattled Republican health care plan faced a serious setback on Thursday as four key Republican leaders again came out in opposition of the bill.

Senators Rand Paul, (R-Ky.), Ted Cruz, (R-Texas), Mike Lee, (R-Utah), and Ron Johnson, (R-Wis.), told the press Thursday morning that they intend to contest the Senate Republican plan in its current form.

“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,” the foursome said in a released 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.”

Paul, who holds a unique perspective on the plan being a physician himself, has been exceptionally vocal in his disapproval of key elements of the bill, particularly refundable tax credits, and has taken his issues with the bill in it’s current form to the president himself.

““I told him, part of my problem is it still looks too much like Obamacare for me,” Paul told The Washington Examiner (http://m.washingtontimes.com/news/2017/jun/22/rand-paul-ted-cruz-mike-lee-and-ron-johnson-oppose/).

“My hope is not to defeat the bill, but to make the bill better,” Paul told a group of waiting reporters in DC. “Now the discussions begin — I think it could take longer than a week.”

Cruz and Lee say their main issue with the bill as written is that it does not do enough to lower premiums for Americans.

“As currently drafted, this bill draft does not do nearly enough to lower premiums. That should be the central issue for Republicans — repealing Obamacare and making health care more affordable,” said Cruz. “It is important to remember that what was released today was only a draft,” he said. “I am hopeful that as we openly debate this legislation, real improvements will be made prior to floor consideration so that we can pass a bill that provides the relief from Obamacare that Republicans have repeatedly promised the last seven years.”

As for Johnson, the Minnesota native says he opposes what he calls the “secretive” drafting process and worries that the Senate might be rushing to a vote.

“I’ve got to talk to the governor, to our state legislators, to doctors, to nurse, to health care providers, to hospitals — and we actually have to get the information we don’t have yet,” he said.

In it’s current state, the bill repeals key components of the original ObamaCare plan but has managed to cut some of the “crucial” spending that conservatives have fought for, primarily a cut to Planned Parenthood funding.

Senate GOP leaders hold a 52-seat majority, so they cannot afford to lose more than two votes. Doing so will most certainly lead to a Democratic filibuster on the bill.

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REPUBLICANS PASS EMBATTLED HEALTH CARE BILL BY NARROW VOTE

WASHINGTON, D.C. — House Republicans on Thursday narrowly passed their beleaguered health care bill by a 217-213 vote not six weeks after a similar bill was defeated for lack of support.

The revised American Health Care Act heads next to the Senate where, if approved, it will replace the Affordable Care Act put into law by the previous Obama administration.

In the end, 20 Republicans voted against the bill, as did all Democrats on record Thursday afternoon. As voting came to an end, House Democrats broke out into a chorus of “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye”, but Republicans eventually got their way.

Upon hearing the news of the vote, President Trump invited Republican lawmakers to the White House for a celebratory press conference.

“Welcome to the beginning of the end of Obamacare,” said Vice President Mike Pence, who credited “the determination, the perseverance and the leadership of Donald Trump” for the passage of the bill.

“What a great group of people, and they’re not even doing it for the party, they’re doing it for the country,” president Trump said as he stood with fellow Republicans in the Rose Garden. “Yes, premiums will be coming down, deductibles will be coming down.”

As Republicans cheered, the pharmaceutical industry’s top lobbying group was more aloof in their response to the House’s passage of the bill.

“Ensuring patients have access to the medicines they need is our top priority. As Congress considers reforms to our health care system, we look forward to continuing to work with them to enhance the competitive market, ensure patients have access to affordable health care and foster the continued development of new innovative medicines,” the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America, or PhRMA, said in a statement.

Democrats, however, were quick to berate the Republicans’ triumph.

“The “health care” bill that Republicans passed today is an absolute disaster,” former Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders tweeted after the announcement of the bill’s passage.

“Here are the white men who just made domestic violence, sexual assault, C-sections and postpartum depression pre-existing conditions. #AHCA,” tweeted Amy Siskind, President and Co-Founder of The New Agenda, an advocacy group for women’s and LGBTQ rights.

“This disastrous bill has been condemned by almost everyone,” House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., said Thursday during a press conference after the vote. Pelosi said latest version is “worse” than the original and scoffed at claims that it would protect those with pre-existing conditions.

“This is a scar that they will carry,” she said of those who voted yes to pass the bill.

But Republicans seemed unfettered by their Democratic colleagues’ bitter response.
“We want to brag about the plan,” Trump said during the post-vote celebration. “Hey, I’m president!”

The bill effectively eliminates tax penalties put into place by ObamaCare, and removes tax increases that higher income earners health industries were hit with under the Affordable Care Act. The bill also allows states to impose work requirements on Medicaid recipients.

If passed into law, the bill will also retain the ObamaCare mandate that family policies cover grown children until the age of 26.

Critics say states could get federal waivers freeing insurers from other Obama coverage requirements and, with waivers, insurers could charge people with pre-existing illnesses at higher rates than healthy customers, boost prices for older consumers to whatever they determine to be fair and ignore the mandate that they cover specified services such as obstetrics and mental health care.

The bill would block federal funding to Planned Parenthood for a period of at least 12 months, a fact that is considered in and of itself a victory by many pro-life Republicans.

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‘OBAMACARE-LIGHT’: REPUBLICANS LASH OUT IN DISAPPROVAL OVER RYAN’S HEALTHCARE REPLACEMENT BILL

Republicans came out in droves on Tuesday to criticize the long awaited Republican bill to replace Obamacare, calling it nothing more than a revamped version of the previous administration’s answer to socialized medicine.

“This is Obamacare by a different form. They’re still keeping the taxes in place and Medicaid expansion, and they’re starting a new entitlement,” said former House Freedom Caucus Chairman Jim Jordan, who said he will refuse to support Paul Ryan’s American Health Care Act.

Congressman Dave Brat (R-VA) said that he too will vote against the bill in its current form.

“The bill maintains many of the federal features including a new entitlement program as well as most of the insurance regulations”, said Brat. “Now [they] are saying we’re going to do repeal and replace but the bill does nothing of the sort. [Speaker] Paul Ryan has always said the entire rationale for this bill is to bend the cost curve down, and so far I have seen no evidence that this bill will bring the cost curve down.”

A Republican Study Caucus memo obtained by Politico (http://www.politico.com/story/2017/03/obamacare-repeal-conservatives-235753) blasted Ryan’s bill stating: “This is a Republican welfare entitlement. Writing checks to individuals to purchase insurance is, in principle, Obamacare. It does allow more choices for individuals, and is more patient-centered, but is fundamentally grounded on the idea that the federal government should fund insurance purchases.”

In an opinion piece co-written by Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) Congressman Mark Meadows (R-NC) (http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2017/03/06/senator-paul-rep-meadows-lets-fully-repeal-obamacare-then-have-open-debate-on-how-to-replace-it.html), the two leaders wrote that many Republican want to support the program but feel there is still a great deal of work to do before that can happen.

Portions of the bill that Paul and Meadows feel are salvageable include:

1.) Leadership wants to keep Obamacare-like subsidies to buy insurance but rename them refundable tax credits (families will be given up to $14,000 dollars of other people’s money).

2.) Leadership wants to keep the Obamacare Cadillac tax but rename it a tax on the top 10% of people who have the best insurance.

3.) Leadership wants to keep the individual mandate but instead of mandating a tax penalty to the government they mandate a penalty to the insurance company (can it possibly be Constitutional to mandate a penalty to a private insurance company?)

4.) Leadership wants to keep $100 billion of the insurance company subsidies from Obamacare but call them “reinsurance.” (Why? Because insurance companies love guaranteed issue as long as the taxpayer finances it!)

The pair say they will fight to introduce their own, more conservative vision of the bill before Congress. “If anyone tells you there isn’t a plan that can both keep our promises to repeal, and work in a bipartisan, open way for replace, tell them conservatives have a plan to do just that. Now let’s hope our leadership will listen, because it is the only way they’re going to get our votes,” said Paul.

Governor Paul LePage (R-ME) echoed his fellow Republicans’ sentiments on the bill submitted by Ryan, saying that he is “very, very discouraged and disappointed,” by the House Republican plan to repeal and replace Obamacare.

“Basically it’s not much better than—in fact, I don’t know, they haven’t scored it yet, so we don’t know what the cost is,” said LePage. “But based on what I see and I’m reading and what has happened here in Maine over the last 15 years, I don’t think it’s an improvement.”

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