Senate Republicans release their healthcare plan, the Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017

Folks, release that breath you’ve been holding in for the past few weeks because the wait is finally over. On Thursday morning, Senate Republicans released their 142-paged bill to repeal and replace Obamacare—the Better Care Reconciliation Act. The ultimate goal of the legislation was to moderate the enormously conservative AHCA (the House approved bill which was passed in May), while also observing the Republican promise of a thorough overhaul of Obamacare. It’s an unquestionably hard balance, and as of right now, it is not yet clear whether that balance was struck in any capacity. We will have to wait until next week when the Congressional Budget Office releases its scoring of the bill to ascertain overarching net consequences. However, the current text of the bill has been offered to the public for independent analysis, and there is important information to glean from it as it stands. Here are the key points you need to know before it goes to vote:

  • With the House bill, Medicaid coverage would end as quickly as 2020; the Senate bill, on the other hand, is opting for a more gradual transition. Medicaid expansion would continue to grow until 2021 before any rollback occurs.
  • Said rollback would include exchanging Medicaid’s open-ended entitlement program for a budget independent of increases in health care costs. States would have to accommodate for the difference themselves, which would likely lead to a reduction of Medicaid services.
  • As far as coverage for preexisting conditions goes, the bill requires that insurers must accept all applicants regardless of their health status, and they cannot charge clients more or less based on health status as well. However, states would have the ability to apply for waivers that could possibly lead to skimpier coverage of essential health benefits, which can be more or less redefined under the bill.
  • The Senate bill will largely follow Obamacare’s footsteps and base subsidies on community, rating, and income.
  • Controversially, the bill would repeal tax increases mandated by Obamacare, providing a tax cut to affluent members of society, an action which would largely hurt Medicaid funding.

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is planning to direct the bill to the Senate floor sometime next week, but the road to seeing it passed has already been presented its fair share of complications. Four Republican senators have expressed their disapproval of the current bill, and Democratic support is highly unlikely. The content of the CBO scoring will also be an influential factor in this bill’s continued existence.

Stay tuned for more updates.