Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) stated today that a discussion draft of the Senate version of the American Health Care Act (AHCA) will be presented tomorrow, with plans for a vote next week before the July 4th break. He also stated that, although the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) still has to determine the cost of the bill, he expected that process would be completed next week. Under the House version of the AHCA, an estimated 23 million people could lose their health care according to the CBO. Senator McConnell said on Tuesday that the Senate health-care bill would be different from the House version, but he did not elaborate.
Speculation has been that the Senate bill will provide a longer period to phase out the Medicaid expansion that happened under the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Under the ACA, Medicaid was extended beyond the disabled, low-income children, their parents; pregnant women; and certain low-income seniors to anyone based on income alone (generally below 138% of the federal poverty level). The phase-out of this expansion has been at the center of discussion in the Senate with some, such as Senator Shelley Moore (R-W.V.), arguing for a long, seven-year phase-out of the Medicaid expansion. However, Senator John Thune (R-S.D.), a member of the Republican leadership, said on Tuesday the phase-out in the bill might just be three years.
Another area of contention is that the cost of health care premiums and whether the reduction of these premiums through tax credits and subsidies is enough to secure the votes of at least 50 of the 52 Republicans in the Senate that are needed to pass the legislation.
Stay tuned to this blog tomorrow for more analysis once the bill is released or contact your Health Care counsel at SGR.