After keeping the Senate healthcare bill secret even from Republican Senators in the so-called health care working group, Senator Mitch McConnell promised to release a discussion draft of the bill Thursday morning ahead of a potential vote next week. But by Wednesday evening details of the bill had leaked.
According to The Washington Post, much like the American Health Care Act that narrowly passed the House in May, the Senate bill would:
- roll back the Affordable Care Act’s taxes
- phase down its Medicaid expansion
- rejigger its subsidies
- give states wider latitude in opting out of its regulations
- eliminate federal funding for Planned Parenthood.
The Senate version does make some changes to the House bill in an effort to make it more palatable to some of the Senate's more moderate members.
While the House legislation tied federal insurance subsidies to age, the Senate bill would link them to income, as the ACA does. The Senate proposal cuts off Medicaid expansion more gradually than the House bill,\ but would enact deeper long-term cuts to the health-care program for low-income Americans. It also removes language restricting federally subsidized health plans from covering abortions, which may have run afoul of complex budget rules.
Slate sums up the differences between the two bills:
The Senate bill keeps Obamacare’s subsidy structure in place while paring back eligibility, guts Medicaid more slowly but more severely than the House bill, and still lets states drop essential consumer protections, although not as many as the House.
Democrats were not impressed.
The secret process with which the bill has been written has not worn well with the public. Since the House passed its version of the AHCA, support for the bill has plummeted, even among Republicans.
McConnell was set to unveil the bill to his Republican colleagues at a meeting Thursday morning. It's expected that the bill will undergo further changes in order to get to the 50 votes needed to pass. McConnell's hope is to hold a vote next week before the Senate leaves on its July 4th recess.