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June 23, 2017

Senate Republicans reveal health care bill, drawing unanimous Democratic opposition

    • After weeks of drafting in secret, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) made the Senate version of the health care bill public on Thursday morning. It shares broad strokes with the House of Representatives bill, whose approval rating is underwater. It has drawn unanimous opposition from Democrats and a few Republicans have shown signs of defection. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) called it “Obamacare lite.”
    • The Senate bill would cut Medicaid funding more gradually in the short run than the House bill but more deeply in the long run. It would repeal the individual mandate penalty and most of the taxes that were implemented as part of the Affordable Care Act. Furthermore, it would allow states to waive required coverage of essential benefits and would defund Planned Parenthood for one year.
    • While the House bill would allow states to waive protections for people with pre-existing conditions, the Senate would keep those protections intact. It would also continue Obamacare subsidies but limit them to a smaller group of low-income people.
    • Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said that the changes in the Senate bill mean that any benefits are in name only. He added that “The Senate Republican  health care bill is a wolf in sheep’s clothing. Only this wolf has sharper teeth than the House bill.”
    • Disability advocates and other activists protested on Thursday outside of McConnell’s office. Several were forcibly removed from the premises and arrested, including some wheelchair-bound individuals.
    • At the White House, President Trump voiced support for the Senate bill, despite its similarity to the House bill, which he called “mean.”

Key Terms

pre-existing condition: A health condition that existed before a person’s health benefits went into effect

subsidyA sum of money granted by the government to ensure that a commodity or service can remain low and competitive

Medicaid: A social health care program for families and individuals with limited resources

Discussion questions
  1. Essential question: What is the future of health care coverage in the United States?
  2. Look at this map of states that expanded Medicaid coverage. How might Senators from those states be inclined to vote on this bill? Explain.
  3. What parts of the legislative process that led to this bill are Democrats upset about and why?

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