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Health care bill: the Senate will be ‘a wild place next week’

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Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) released his revised version of the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) on Thursday in a bid to bring a number of conservative and moderate GOP senators on board. The Kentucky congressman is hoping that his new measures will convince his Republican partners to at least begin the debate.

“I hope every senator will vote to open debate. Because that’s how you change the status quo,” he said after unveiling the revised draft of the bill. “This is our chance to bring about [the] changes we’ve been talking about since ObamaCare was forced on the American people […] and deliver relief to those who need it,” he also told his Republican colleagues.

As Scoop highlighted this week, McConnell opted to retain ObamaCare’s 3.8-percent investment tax as well as the 0.9-percent Medicare payroll surtax which apply to single individuals who earn over $200,000 per annum and on couples whose income exceeds $250,000.

In addition, the new draft includes an extra $70 billion to help the states subsidize the health insurance plans of low-income Americans and earmarks an extra $43 billion in grants to tackle the devastating opioid-addiction crisis which continues unabated statewide.

McConnell’s new health care revamp also features a version of Sens. Ted Cruz’s and Mike Lee’s Consumer Freedom Agreement which would enable insurers to propose low-cost health insurance policies as long as they also offer at least one plan which is in keeping with ObamaCare’s requirements. While Cruz stated that he would back a bill which contained the amendment, Lee was more cautious pointing out that their agreement had not actually made it into the new draft.

“The Cruz-Lee Amendment has not been added to BCRA. Something based on it has, but I have not seen it or agreed to it,” the senator for Utah warned.

Sens. Susan Collins (R-MA) and Rand Paul (R-TX) promptly declared their opposition to the new draft. While Paul described the revised draft as even worse than the original proposal, Collins reiterated her concerns about the cuts to Medicaid.

“Still deep cuts to Medicaid in Senate bill. Will vote no on MTP [motion to proceed]. Ready to work w/ GOP & Dem colleagues to fix flaws in ACA,” she tweeted on Thursday afternoon.

Although McConnell is hoping that his efforts will be sufficient to advance the bill next week, the Senate’s No. 3 leader Sen. John Thune (R-SD) is expecting a rough ride.

“We’ve got a long way ahead of us yet. The floor is going to be a wild place next week,” he warned.

At the time of writing, it still looked like a number of GOP senators were threatening to vote against a procedural motion to begin debate but they are expected to reappraise their position at the beginning of next week when the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) releases its score on the revised health care proposal.

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