Senate Republicans Hope for Healthcare Vote by July 4 Recess
Senate leaders are pushing to complete and vote on its version of a Republican healthcare bill before theJuly 4 recess so they can move onto other business, such as tax reform. Getting 50 votes needed to pass it - with Vice President Mike Pence breaking the tie - may prove difficult, however. Republicans currently control 52 seats and important differences on any replacement legislation remain between moderates and conservative members.
As passed in the House, the bill includes provisions that would roll back the expansion of Medicaid that was included in the Affordable Care Act (ACA), as well as fundamentally change how Medicaid operates and how states receive funding from the federal government. Overhauling Medicaid, however, may prove to be a difficult proposition. The House bill proposes to freeze federal funding for the Medicaid expansion in 2020, then gradually phase-out the expanded program. Some Republican senators are considering a more gradual phase-out, and some say they won't support a phase-out at all. There also is little agreement on how to lower the cost of insurance premiums and deductibles while ensuring access to coverage, a key goal of Obamacare repeal and replace efforts. According to Republican leadership in the Senate, the bill - which passed the House of Representatives on May 5 - will need considerable changes before it can be brought to the floor for a vote.