KHN Morning Briefing

Summaries of health policy coverage from major news organizations

Senate Republicans Unveil Health Care Proposal

The Senate bill — once promised as a top-to-bottom revamp of the health bill passed by the House last month — instead maintains its structure, with modest adjustments.

The New York Times: Senate Leaders Unveil Bill To Repeal The Affordable Care Act
Senate Republicans, who have promised a repeal of the Affordable Care Act for seven years, took a major step on Thursday toward that goal, unveiling a bill to cut Medicaid deeply and end the health law’s mandate that most Americans have health insurance. The 142-page bill would create a new system of federal tax credits to help people buy health insurance, while offering states the ability to drop many of the benefits required by the Affordable Care Act, like maternity care, emergency services and mental health treatment. (Pear and Kaplan, 6/22)

The Hill: Senate GOP Releases ObamaCare Repeal Bill With Deep Cuts To Medicaid
The measure includes deep cuts to Medicaid and fundamentally reshapes that program from an open-ended government commitment to a system of capped federal payments that limit federal spending. The bill repeals billions of dollars ObamaCare taxes used to raise money for the law’s coverage expansion and also abolishes the law’s mandates to buy coverage. (Sullivan, 6/22)

The Washington Post: What's In The Senate Obamacare Replacement Bill
Senate Republican leadership unveiled their health-care bill Thursday morning, after weeks of crafting it behind closed doors. The bill takes major steps to roll back provisions of the Affordable Care Act but doesn’t go as far as the House’s version. In both bills, the spending cuts made by Medicaid and other programs would go to fund a substantial tax cut for the health-care industry and the rich. (Soffen and Cameron, 6/22)

Bloomberg: Senate Health Plan Draft Relies On Subsidies GOP Has Faulted
Senate Republicans’ proposal to replace Obamacare would provide an additional $50 billion over four years to stabilize insurance exchanges, relying on a mechanism Republicans have criticized in the past as a way to keep insurers in the marketplace. The plan, released Thursday after months of closed-door meetings, includes $15 billion a year in market-stabilizing funds over the next two years and $10 billion a year in 2020 and 2021. These payments would come in addition to cost-sharing subsidy payments, which would be extended through 2019.Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has previously said he wants the full Senate to vote on the measure next week, but it’s not clear if the GOP will have the votes to pass it. (Dennis and Litvan, 6/22)

Kaiser Health News: Senate Health Bill Would Revamp Medicaid, Alter ACA Guarantees, Cut Premium Support
The bill would also reconfigure how Americans with slightly higher incomes who don’t qualify for Medicaid would get tax credits to help pay insurance premiums, eliminate penalties for those who fail to obtain insurance and employers who fail to provide it, and make it easier for states to waive consumer protections in the ACA that require insurance companies to charge the same premiums to sick and healthy people and to provide a specific set of benefits. “We agreed on the need to free Americans from Obamacare’s mandates, and policies contained in the discussion draft will repeal the individual mandate so Americans are no longer forced to buy insurance they don’t need or can’t afford; will repeal the employer mandate so Americans no longer see their hours and take-home pay cut by employers because of it,” McConnell said on the floor of the Senate after releasing the bill. He also noted that the bill would help “stabilize the insurance markets that are collapsing under Obamacare as well.” (Rovner, 6/22)

NBC News: Senate Health Care Bill Includes Deep Medicaid Cuts
The bill winds down the expanded Medicaid program under Obamacare after 2020 — a longer timeline than the House health care bill that was passed in May. But it also makes deeper cuts to the program in the long run by changing the federal funding allocation formula for states to receive fewer federal dollars for Medicaid recipients. It's an attempt at a compromise to appease those Medicaid advocates like Sens. Rob Portman of Ohio and Susan Collins of Maine as well as conservatives like Sens. Mike Lee of Utah and Ted Cruz of Texas. (Caldwell, 6/22)

Modern Healthcare: Senate Republicans Release Discussion Draft Of ACA Repeal Bill
Tax credits to help people buy insurance in the individual market would be offered to those with incomes up to 350% of the federal poverty level, below the ACA's current limit of 400% of poverty. The bill would fund a temporary federal reinsurance program to stabilize the individual insurance market. After that, states would have to implement their own reinsurance programs, with federal assistance through 2026. Federal payments to insurers for the ACA's cost-sharing reductions for lower-income exchange plan enrollees would be funded through 2019, after which those subsidies to help people with deductibles and copayments would end. (Meyer, 6/22)

The Hill: Senate Bill Would Repeal Most ObamaCare Taxes, Delay Cadillac Tax
The Senate draft healthcare bill unveiled Thursday takes a similar approach to ObamaCare's taxes as the House bill — repealing most of them with the exception of the Cadillac tax. The Cadillac tax, which applies to high-cost health insurance plans, would be delayed until 2026 in both the Senate and House bills. The tax is unpopular with both Republicans and Democrats and has never taken effect. However, the tax has been estimated to raise a significant amount of revenue that could help pay for other provisions in the bills. (Jagoda, 6/22)

The Hill: Senate Bill Contains $50B To Stabilize ObamaCare Markets
The Senate Republican ObamaCare repeal bill would appropriate $50 billion over four years to try and stabilize ObamaCare’s exchanges.Republican senators agree that the insurance markets are collapsing because of ObamaCare, but there have been disagreements over whether the markets need to be stabilized before the law is repealed. (Weixel, 6/22)

NPR: Senate Republicans Reveal Long-Awaited Obamacare Overhaul
The Senate's proposal allows states substantial freedom in determining their own health care programs — even more freedom than the House bill allows for. Under the Affordable Care Act, states can apply for "innovation waivers" exempting them from parts of the law and allowing them to determine their own health care systems, to an extent. However, there are strict rules in place stating that states getting those waivers must provide coverage that is "at least as comprehensive" as they would be otherwise, as the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services explains. (Kurtzleben, 6/22)

Stat: Does The Senate Health Care Plan Have 'More Heart'? It Depends
President Trump famously called the House plan to repeal and replace Obamacare “mean” — entreating Senate Republicans to make their version of the bill more generous.Just hours before the Senate unveiled its draft legislation, he repeated that plea. “I’ve been talking about a plan with more heart. I’ve said, ‘Add some money to it,'” Trump told a crowd in Iowa Wednesday night. Now that the Senate’s plan is out, does it pass the White House test? Does it have more heart?The short answer: a little. But it’s probably still mean. (Mershon, 6/22)

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