rain
Monday May 29th, 2017 6:56PM

Senate wary on 'Obamacare' repeal, bumpy path ahead

By The Associated Press
Related Articles
  Contact Editor

WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans are claiming a triumph by pushing their legislative centerpiece scuttling much of President Barack Obama's health care law through the House. It was a perilous journey, and its Senate pathway will be at least as bumpy with little doubt the measure will change, assuming it survives.

Thursday's 217-213 House passage — with 20 GOP defections — was preceded by several near-death experiences for the legislation, even though repealing Obama's statute helped guide Donald Trump's presidential run and multitudes of GOP congressional campaigns.

And that was in a chamber Republicans control 238-193. Had just two additional Republicans voted "no," the measure would have lost because bills need majorities to pass. Now, Republicans must try maneuvering the measure through a Senate terrain that is different politically and procedurally from the House.

"We must manage expectations and remain focused on the art of the doable as we move forward," said Senate Finance Committee Chairman Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, among several cautionary statements issued by Senate Republicans after the House vote.

The House bill would end the Obama law's fines on people who don't purchase policies and erase its taxes on health industry businesses and higher-earning people. It would dilute Obama's consumer-friendly insurance coverage requirements, like letting states permit insurers to charge higher premiums for customers with pre-existing medical conditions.

The measure would replace Obama's federal subsidies for lower-income insurance buyers with tax credits geared to consumers' ages. And it would cut Medicaid, the health insurance program for the poor and disabled, including ending extra federal payments 31 states are accepting to expand Medicaid to cover more people.

The notoriously understated Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., lauded the House bill as "an important step" to erasing Obama's law but left the door open to changes.

"Congress will continue to act on legislation to provide more choices and freedom in health care decisions," McConnell said.

The House bill was written by Republicans representing districts often drawn to incorporate strong majorities of GOP voters. Senators represent entire states, and many tend to reflect more pragmatic views than their House colleagues.

Several come from northeastern and Midwestern states with large numbers of low-income people receiving Medicaid. Many of the 31 states that accepted Obama's expansion of that program are led by GOP governors, and senators have no interest in cutting their states' funds and taking coverage away from voters.

Republican senators also represent states ravaged by deaths caused by opioid abuse. The House measure would let states escape Obama's requirement that insurers cover anti-drug services.

"I've already made clear that I don't support the House bill as currently constructed," said Sen. Rob Portman, R-Ohio. He cited its Medicaid cuts, including for treating people with drug problems, and said he'd make sure that "those who are impacted by this epidemic can continue to receive treatment."

In March, Portman joined three other GOP senators in opposing Medicaid cuts in an early version of the House legislation. In a letter to McConnell, they wrote that the measure "does not provide stability and certainty for individuals and families" who use the program.

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said the House bill poses "more questions than answers about its consequences." She said there should be "no barrier for coverage" for people with pre-existing medical conditions and that the House's tax credits "do not adequately take into account income levels" or regional differences in health costs.

Collins and Sen. Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, have opposed cutting federal money for Planned Parenthood. The House bill blocks federal payments for a year to the organization, which provides abortions but doesn't use federal funds for them by law.

Other senators are also seeking changes. No. 3 Senate GOP leader John Thune of South Dakota is working on a plan to skew the bill's tax subsidies more toward lower-income people.

States that did not expand Medicaid under Obama's law are looking for additional funding for their programs. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., whose state did not enlarge Medicaid, said he would not back a health care bill "that rewards people for taking Medicaid expansion at the expense of those who did not."

Then there are senators like Ted Cruz of Texas and Rand Paul of Kentucky, former presidential candidates who seldom back away from fights and have already signaled they're looking for changes.

The Republican edge in the Senate is just 52-48. Using special rules, the Senate could pass its version of the bill with just 50 votes and rely on Vice President Mike Pence to break a tie. But that means they can lose just two GOP senators assuming Democrats uniformly oppose scrapping Obama's signature domestic achievement.

Those same bylaws bar provisions that aren't chiefly aimed at federal spending or revenue, meaning some House language dealing strictly with policy changes could fall out.

"The Senate will now finish work on our bill, but will take the time to get it right," said Sen. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn. He chairs the Senate health committee.

  • Associated Categories: U.S. News, Local/State News, Politics, Associated Press (AP), AP National News, AP Online National News, Top U.S. News short headlines, Top General short headlines, AP Online Headlines - Washington, AP Online Congress News, AP Health, AP Business, AP Business - Economy, AP Business - Industries, AP Business - Financial Services
© Copyright 2017 AccessWDUN.com
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Senate wary on 'Obamacare' repeal, bumpy path ahead
Senate Republicans are warning that the GOP health care bill that was passed by the House yesterday won't necessarily survive a Senate vote in the same shape.
10:35AM ( 4 minutes ago )
US military member killed in Somalia, 1st death since 1993
US military member killed in Somalia in anti-terror operation; 1st such death there since 1993
10:18AM ( 21 minutes ago )
North Korea accuses US, South Korea of assassination attempt
North Korea has accused the U.S. and South Korean spy agencies of an unsuccessful assassination attempt on leader Kim Jong Un involving biochemical weapons
10:16AM ( 24 minutes ago )
Associated Press (AP)
GOP revs up to 'Eye of the Tiger' for vote, Dems sing bye
Like boxers before a big fight, Republicans and Democrats pumped themselves up with confidence and music on Thursday as they voted to dismantle former President Barack Obama's health care law
8:03AM ( 2 hours ago )
AP Explains: Why the sick will face coverage problems
Experts say the change in the House Republican health care bill that helped secure its passage may make little difference in the hunt for affordable coverage for people with pre-existing health problems.
6:27AM ( 4 hours ago )
10 Things to Know for Today
10 Things to Know for Today
6:05AM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Online Headlines - Washington
Georgia colleges now must implement concealed handgun law
Georgia's Republican governor has signed legislation allowing people with concealed handgun permits to carry on public college campuses
3:12AM ( 7 hours ago )
Experts: Those already sick still face coverage problems
Experts say the change in the House Republican health care bill that helped secure its passage may make little difference in the hunt for affordable coverage for people with pre-existing health problems.
3:10AM ( 7 hours ago )
House repeal of 'Obamacare' hands hot potato to wary Senate
Republicans are claiming a triumph by pushing their bill scuttling much of President Barack Obama's health care law through the House, but it faces a bumpy road in the Senate
3:06AM ( 7 hours ago )
AP Online Congress News
GOP health plan spurs sick to #IAmAPreexistingCondition
Concerns about coverage for people with pre-existing medical conditions under the Republican health care bill are prompting some people to tell their personal stories on Twitter
9:07AM ( 1 hour ago )
Anthem asks Supreme Court to review blocked Cigna deal
Health insurer Anthem will not quit on its $48-billlion bid to buy rival Cigna and now hopes to find a favorable audience in the U.S. Supreme Court
8:17AM ( 2 hours ago )
Last-minute negotiations keyed Republican legislative win
Last-minute negotiating and behind-the-scenes pep talks marked the passage of the House health care bill
3:17AM ( 7 hours ago )
AP Health
Buffett cuts stake in IBM and shares slide
Buffett cuts stake in IBM and shares slide to what could be 2nd worst decline of the year
9:43AM ( 56 minutes ago )
The Latest: EU demands reassurances on citizens in UK
European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker has drawn laughs at a conference by announcing that he'd speak in French because "slowly but surely English is losing importance in Europe."
9:37AM ( 1 hour ago )
1st large Chinese-made passenger jet makes its maiden flight
The first large Chinese-made passenger jetliner has completed its maiden flight, a symbolic milestone in China's long-term goal to break into the Western-dominated aircraft market
9:28AM ( 1 hour ago )
AP Business
US employers added 211,000 jobs, rate fell to 4.4 percent
US added 211,000 jobs in April, unemployment rate fell to 10-year low of 4.4 percent
8:31AM ( 2 hours ago )
Market mood sanguine ahead of French election
The mood in financial markets appears pretty relaxed heading into Sunday's French presidential election _ centrist Emmanuel Macron will prevail, and by some margin
7:55AM ( 2 hours ago )
5 things to watch for in Friday's US jobs report for April
From wages to weather, 5 things to watch for in the April US jobs report
6:24AM ( 4 hours ago )
AP Business - Economy
Oil prices stabilize in Asian trading; stock indexes slide
Oil prices stabilize in Asian trading after sinking to five-month low; stock indexes slide in holiday-thinned trading
10:30PM ( 12 hours ago )
10 dead in clash between Mexico troops, alleged fuel thieves
Gunmen using local residents as human shields open fire on Mexican army patrols investigating fuel pipeline thefts in clashes that leave 10 dead
7:29PM ( 15 hours ago )
The Latest: Singer Doherty: Le Pen not "a distant threat"
Singer Pete Doherty is calling French far-right presidential candidate Marine Le Pen "a shadow at the gate," and has joined French artists and students rallying and singing for openness and tolerance.
4:25PM ( 18 hours ago )
AP Business - Industries
GOP health care bill begins its ride through the House
Republicans have started pushing their prized health care bill through the House
9:58AM ( 1 day ago )
GOP revives struggling health care bill and plans House vote
Republicans say they are ready to push their prized health care bill through the House
7:48AM ( 1 day ago )
A day on from Fed decision, Europe gains on Macron hopes
Asian stock markets slip while dollar holds ground after Fed's latest statement while European shares open higher on upbeat economic report
7:47AM ( 1 day ago )
AP Business - Financial Services
US military member killed in Somalia, 1st death since 1993
US military member killed in Somalia in anti-terror operation; 1st such death there since 1993
10:18AM ( 21 minutes ago )
North Korea accuses US, South Korea of assassination attempt
North Korea has accused the U.S. and South Korean spy agencies of an unsuccessful assassination attempt on leader Kim Jong Un involving biochemical weapons
10:16AM ( 24 minutes ago )
Trump: Australian health care system better than US
President Donald Trump praises Australia as having "better health care than we do."
10:13AM ( 27 minutes ago )
Prison: Aaron Hernandez elated about acquittal, not suicidal
A Massachusetts prisons report says Aaron Hernandez was outwardly elated after his acquittal in a double murder trial and did not appear to have thoughts of suicide in the days before he killed himself in his prison cell
10:12AM ( 28 minutes ago )
German airport offers prayer booth in 65 languages
Travelers at one German airport can now receive spiritual solace by entering a booth and listening to a prayer of their choice before boarding the plane
10:10AM ( 29 minutes ago )