After weeks of secret negotiations, Republican senators on Thursday released a healthcare bill that would reduce key benefits for millions of Americans. The Better Care Reconciliation Act would fund a large capital gains tax cut for the rich by removing millions of low-income and disabled people from Medicaid. According to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, $33 billion of the tax cuts would benefit the 400 wealthiest U.S. households. The Senate bill would also reduce subsidies to individuals to purchase health insurance, and would allow states to eliminate protections for people with pre-existing conditions. The measure would defund Planned Parenthood for a year, making breast cancer screenings and basic reproductive services more difficult for women to secure. The bill was negotiated behind closed doors between 13 Republican male senators. This is Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell.
Sen. Mitch McConnell: “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.”
Sen. McConnell claimed the bill would “strengthen” Medicaid. In fact, it would cut the federal health program by more than $800 billion over a decade. This is New York Democrat and Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer.
Sen. Chuck Schumer: “This is a bill designed to strip away healthcare benefits and protections from Americans who need it most, in order to give a tax break to the folks who need it least. This is a bill that would end Medicaid as we know it, rolling back Medicaid expansion, cutting federal support for the program even more than the House bill, which cut Medicaid by $800 billion.”
Sen. McConnell says he wants to vote on the healthcare bill next week, before Congress leaves for the Fourth of July recess. Republicans can only afford to lose two votes for the measure to pass with 50 votes. Four Republican senators—Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, Ron Johnson and Mike Lee—said Thursday they’ll oppose the bill in its current form, arguing it fails to cut Medicaid benefits enough. The bill is similar to a House measure that would leave more than 20 million additional Americans without health insurance. The Congressional Budget Office has yet to score the Senate bill. We’ll have more on the Senate healthcare plan after headlines.