Are you surprised to learn that Senate Republicans’ new draft of the healthcare replacement bill is very bad? It’s so bad, in fact, that within hours of its reveal on Thursday, Republican Senators Susan Collins and Rand Paul have already said they will not support it. U.S. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell needs 50 votes to pass the measure. If one more Republican says no, the bill will fail.
The new draft of the bill attempts to appease those who appropriately criticized the original proposal—which cut taxes for the wealthy and slashed benefits for the poor—by retaining some of the taxes that Obamacare levied on the wealthy. Reuters reports that this includes a 3.8 percent investment income tax on individuals or couples who earn more than $200,000, or $250,000, respectively, and an additional surtax that will fund Medicare. It will also maintain a tax deduction cap for health insurance executives.
It also establishes a $45 billion fund to battle opioid addiction, an additional $70 billion in state subsidies to help low-income people, and allows people to pay for insurance premiums with health savings accounts.
But some of the most controversial parts of the original draft of the Better Care Reconciliation Act remain: it promises to gut Medicaid, defund Planned Parenthood, and allows insurers to opt out of Obamacare mandates (such as coverage of essential health benefits like prescription drugs and prenatal care).
A new amendment introduced by Texas Sen. Ted Cruz requires insurers who opt-out of essential health benefit coverage to offer skimpier, cheaper plans that offer essential coverage. But these plans, which would be deregulated, would allow insurance companies to raise premiums or outright deny coverage to people who need health care the most.