Thursday dawned bright and early with a new Republican health care bill. This new bill would repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act (aka Obama Care). This new bill, Republicans claim, will "help hold down insurance costs" while at the same time allowing insurance companies to sell "stripped down policies."
What does this mean for the insured? Well, these new changes are meant to "bridge a vast gap between the Senate's most conservative Republicans." These Republicans are still concerned about what will happen to those Americans still without health insurance. But there are some good changes, including taxes on those with high income levels and the expansion of tax-favored health savings accounts.
Senators Susan Collins (Maine) and Rand Paul (Kentucky) have yet to be convinced that the new bill will succeed, even if the bill is up for debate. Other Republicans on the ideological side of things are also still unsure.
Senator Mike Lee (Utah) said, "The new Senate health care bill is substantially different from the version released last month, and it is unclear to me whether it has improved."
So...it's different but not better? Other, more moderate Republicans are upset by the new bill's cuts to the low-income plan, Medicaid. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (West Virginia) said she had "serious concerns about Medicaid provisions" in the latest draft of the bill.
"I want to make sure that with regard to those people who are currently getting coverage under Medicaid expansion, that we have some options for them," Senator Rob Portman (Ohio) said, agreeing with Moore Capito.
So far, two of the 52 Republicans in the Senate have voted "no" on this new bill. One more could stop the Republicans' quest to dismantle the Obama-era healthcare system. In the meantime, Democrats are looking for at least one chink in the Republican party's armor.
"The Republican Trumpcare bill still slashes Medicaid. The cuts are ever bit as draconian as they were in the previous version," said Senator Chuck Schumer (New York).
He went on to say the new bill will be a major blow to the American populace, particularly those struggling with addictions, in hospitals, or nursing homes.
According to The New York Times, the new bill would "roll back the expansion of Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act." It would also still move Medicaid from "an open-ended entitlement to a system of fixed payments to states." But, those state payments would not count toward the per capita caps, or spending limits.
The new bill would also allow insurers to "sell regulated health plans through a public insurance exchange." Through this exchange, they must provide "essential health benefits" such as mental health care, maternity care, and emergency services.
Senator Ted Cruz (Texas) said these inclusions showed "very significant progress" and a "substantial improvement."
Republican leaders have allocated tens of billions of dollars to attempt to offset rising premiums, which is a constant concern for insurer and consumer advocates.
Democrats still aren't on board. Senator Chris Coons (Delaware) said the new bill "is like allowing car companies to sell cars without airbags, bumpers, or emergency breaks." Without these parts, cars might be cheaper, but no one should drive them. Similarly, health plans may be cheaper without certain provisions, but users would receive very little coverage.
To its credit, the new bill will provide $45 billion to combat opioid abuse. This is an important issue to Senators Portman and Capito, who opposed the previous version of the bill.
If Senator Mitch McConnell can get 50 willing senators to back the new version of the bill, it may have a fighting chance.