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July 17, 2017

Senate Republicans release revised version of health care bill


  • On Thursday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) released the second version of the GOP’s proposal to repeal and replace Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act), the Better Care Reconciliation Act.
  • The new version retains two Obamacare taxes on the wealthy and adds $70 billion of spending to insurers to stabilize the market. It would also allocate $45 billion to fight the opioid epidemic. It still cuts Medicaid spending significantly.
  • A controversial addition to the bill is an amendment offered by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX). The Cruz amendment would allow insurers to opt out of Affordable Care Act requirements and offer cheap bare-bones plans as long as they offer some plans that follow the rules of the Affordable Care Act.
  • Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (R-NY) said that the changes were not enough. “The incredibly modest change to the tax provisions, the small pot of funding for opioid abuse treatment, these other tweaks around the edges are like a drop in the bucket, compared to what the bill does to Medicaid, to seniors, to Americans with preexisting conditions,” he said.
  • The analysis of the bill by the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office is still pending. Senators Rand Paul (R-KY) and Susan Collins (R-ME) have indicated that they intend to vote no on a motion to proceed. If one more Republican Senator joins them (Democrats are united in opposition) the bill will die.

  1. Essential question: When President Trump was running for office, he promised to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. What has that process looked like?
  2. What is the opioid epidemic, and why is it important to debates about health care?
  3. The two Senators who have said they intend to vote no are from the most conservative (Paul) and moderate (Collins) sides of the Republican caucus. What challenges might the GOP face in convincing both of these Senators to vote yes?
  4. Why do you think repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act is important to Republicans in Congress?

Key Term:

opioid: a class of drugs that include both heroin and pain relievers legally available by prescription. Regular use can lead to dependence and misuse.


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