Trump Puts Full Support Behind New GOP Healthcare Bill

September 21, 2017 Updated: September 21, 2017

President Donald Trump described a new healthcare bill introduced by Senate Republicans as “a great bill.”

The bill, which was introduced by senators Bill Cassidy (R-LA), and Lindsey Graham (R-SC), will be put to a vote in the Senate on Sept. 30, the last day on which the bill can be passed through the budget reconciliation process. Under the reconciliation procedure Republicans only need 51 votes to pass it as opposed to 60.

The bill would undo several key features of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare, such as the individual mandate, which requires every U.S. citizen to have healthcare or face a penalty. It would also undo penalties for employers if they don’t provide health insurance for their employees.

The bill will also put a limit on Medicaid spending, providing states with a set annual amount calculated on a per capita basis, instead of the federal government matching state expenditures for all medical costs incurred under the program.

The bill will provide the states with more funding in the form of block grants and say over how they run their healthcare programs.

Health care expert Avik Roy has argued that block granting Medicaid funding to the states will give them the ability to reform the program, simultaneously bringing their budgets under control and delivering better care to the poor and disabled whom Medicaid serves.

The freedom given to the states may also result in some deep blue states—California, New York, and Vermont—developing single-payer health care, also known as Medicare for everyone.

Red states will likely go in the direction of more free market approaches to health care. The bill will give them the option, for instance, of waiving Obamacare’s defined health benefits. Critics say these required health benefits drive up insurance costs by requiring, for instance, retired couples to purchase insurance that funds prenatal care.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) has praised the bill, saying it would allow “states and governors to actually implement better health care ideas by taking more decision-making power out of Washington.”

President Trump described Senator Cassidy as a “class act,” saying he really cares about people and wants to help them.

Earlier this year Trump outlined some of the key features he would want the new healthcare bill to have. Among them are the coverage for pre-existing conditions, some sort of subsidy to help low-income families purchase health-insurance, and allowing children up to 26 to stay on their parents plan.

Under the new bill, the current subsidy system of the ACA, which provides people earning up to 400% of the poverty level with subsidies, will be phased out by 2020. It will be replaced with a system where those earning up to 250% percent of the poverty level will get a break on deductibles and other out-of-pocket expenses.

Children up to 26 will be allowed to stay on their parents healthcare plan, and insurance companies will still have to insure people with pre-existing conditons.

“I would not sign Graham-Cassidy if it did not include coverage of pre-existing conditions,” Trump said in a tweet on Wednesday.

Trump also expressed hope that Republican senators will vote for their bill, and fulfill a promise of repealing Obamacare that they campaigned on for eight years.

I hope Republican Senators will vote for Graham-Cassidy and fulfill their promise to Repeal & Replace ObamaCare. Money direct to States!

The most recent effort by Republicans to repeal and replace the ACA failed in July when Senator John McCain (R-Ariz.) unexpectedly voted against the bill, leaving Republicans with one vote short.

Republican Senators Susan Collins (R-Maine), and Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska) also voted against the bill.

The Congressional Budget Office is scoring the bill, with their estimate expected before the Sept. 3o deadline. Based on the CBO’s scoring of previous Republican health care bills, the evaluation will be negative.

The CBO earlier estimated that the repeal of the individual mandate will result in 16 million Americans losing insurance, a position heavily criticized by most Republicans. But the expected score may influence, or provide political cover for, senators who choose to vote no.

So far only Republican Senator Rand Paul (KY) has said that he will vote against the bill. It is unclear whether McCain, Collins, and Murkowski will vote in favor of the bill.

The bill leaves most of Obamacare’s taxes in place, which is a sticking point for Paul.

Trump called out Paul on Twitter, saying “Rand Paul is a friend of mine but he is such a negative force when it comes to fixing healthcare. Graham-Cassidy Bill is GREAT! Ends Ocare!”

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