Senate Republican leaders unveiled what they called a “discussion draft” of their long-awaited health care bill, a part of the party’s ongoing efforts to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act.
Four Republican senators have already come out in opposition to the Senate bill, the Better Care Reconciliation Act, jeopardizing its passage.
Critics on both sides of the aisle said the bill, which was drafted behind closed doors by a small group of Senate leaders and committee staffers, has been shrouded in secrecy.
Trump told reporters today that there will be “a little negotiation, but it’s going to be very good.”
Republicans ‘not ready’ to support the bill
GOP Sens. Ted Cruz of Texas, Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, Mike Lee of Utah and Rand Paul of Kentucky released a joint statement saying, “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.”
They added, “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.”
In a separate statement, Paul said he’ll oppose the bill “in its current form, but I remain open to negotiations.”
“The current bill does not repeal Obamacare. It does not keep our promises to the American people,” he said.
Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, told reporters she has “not yet had the opportunity to read the text of the bill, and the details really matter.”
“I see some positive features of this bill that are improvements over the House, and I see some negative features based on my first analysis,” she said. “I don’t like the provision that eliminates federal funding for Planned Parenthood. It makes no sense to single out Planned Parenthood from all the Medicaid providers. There’s already a ban against using federal funds for abortions, so there’s absolutely no need for that.”
A vote from Collins, who has been willing to break from her party, would be key to ensuring the bill’s passage.
Senate Republicans can afford to lose only two of their members to pass the bill, assuming Democrats remain united in their opposition.
Republicans acknowledge tough road ahead for bill
As members left a meeting about the bill, many said they were encouraged by their first impressions of the text but were hesitant to say if it would clear the 50 vote threshold for passage.
“There’s a lot to digest. It’s very complicated,” Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., said as he left the gathering.
Some Republicans said they liked how the Senate bill calculates the value of tax credits to help individuals pay for insurance.
While the House bill linked the tax credits to age only, the Senate bill considers age, income and geographical area.
“A person making about $12,000 a year will have more access and a lower cost of health insurance. And that’s a really good thing,” said Sen. Tim Scott, R-S.C.
But Sen. John Thune, R-S.D., a member of Senate leadership, acknowledged that the draft would not pass in its current form.
“Right now the challenge is, how do we get to 50?” he said.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell indicated that he wants to get a vote before the July 4 legislative recess…