Legislators Meet to Find Legislative Compromise on Healthcare Reform

July 20, 2017 | Addiction Policy Forum
The Better Care Reconciliation Act is the Senate republican legislation designed to reform the Affordable Care Act. According to the CBO, this legislation would leave 22 million more Americans uninsured by 2026, while gutting Medicaid to the tune of $772 billion.

At the end of last week, there were two republicans who said they were not supportive of this legislation, which means they could only afford one more defection. On Monday night, two additional Senators, Lee of Utah and Moran of Kansas, came out against the latest iteration of the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA). With these two additional “NO” votes, the legislation appeared dead.

Following this news, Senator McConnell stated that the Senate would vote on the legislation they passed last year to repeal the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Entitled, the ObamaCare Repeal Reconciliation Act (ORRA), this bill would repeal the ACA, while delaying its impact for two years, allowing the conference to work on a replacement.

When scored by the Congressional Budget Office, ORRA would result in 32 million more uninsured people in a decade, and cut the deficit by $473 billion. It would eliminate Medicaid Expansion entirely and it is estimated that it would increase average premiums by 25% in 2018 alone, and double by 2026.

This move was met with immediately opposition from four senators. In addition to the opposition from these four, Senator McCain’s absence due to a health emergency means they are currently five votes shy of passage.

Yesterday afternoon, President Trump had lunch with all republican senators in which he stated that failure was not an option and suggested they cancel the entirety of the August recess to finish this legislation.

On the heels of the lunch session, it was announced that the 10 republican senators who opposed BCRA last week would meet on Wednesday evening to try and hammer out a compromise to revive this legislation.

Reports are that this meeting did not produce any significant movement during the three-hour meeting. One proposal that leadership may make is giving $200 billion in assistance to states that expanded Medicaid. This would be paid for by keeping the Medicare surtax on wealthy earners and the 3.8% investment income tax.

The goal here is to win the support of those moderates concerned with the impact of Medicaid cuts. There has not been a lot of reaction to this rumor yet; however, this move would likely upset conservatives who would like to put the savings included in this legislation into deficit reduction.

We will continue to keep you updated as this initiative winds its way through the legislative process. Please continue contacting your senators and reminding them of the importance of Medicaid to those suffering with a substance use disorder.