Four Republic senators oppose new healthcare bill
WASHINGTON – Senator Rand Paul said on Thursday he and three of his fellow Republicans in the Senate oppose the draft healthcare bill put forward by party leaders as it is currently written, potentially imperilling the legislation’s passage, the Associated Press reported.
Republicans can only afford to lose two votes and still pass the bill in the Senate, given the expectation of universal Democratic opposition.
U.S. Senate Republicans unveiled their version of legislation that would replace Obamacare, proposing to kill a tax on the wealthy that pays for it and reduce aid to the poor to cut costs.
With Democrats deeply opposed to Republican attempts to overhaul former President Barack Obama’s signature healthcare law, the route to passage was extremely narrow for Republicans, who control both houses of Congress. There were no assurances that moderates and conservatives will be able to bridge their differences.
The proposal, worked out by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell with other Republican leaders in secret, was welcomed by President Donald Trump. The president privately bashed as “mean” a version passed last month in the House of Representatives, according to congressional sources.
Trump, who said on Wednesday that he wants a health plan “with heart”, told reporters at the White House that healthcare legislation will require “a little negotiation, but it’s going to be very good”. He said he doubted Democrats would help.
The draft bill proposes repealing the 3.8 per cent net investment income tax on high earners retroactively to the start of 2017, not at some point in the future, as some analysts had speculated. The tax, which affects high-income Americans and was imposed to help pay for Obamacare, has been a key target for Republicans.
The Senate bill maintains much of the structure of the House bill, but differs in several key ways.
It would phase out Obamacare’s expansion of the Medicaid program for the poor and disabled over three years, from 2021 to 2024, and then enact deeper cuts in the program than the House version beginning in 2025. It would also allow states to add work requirements for some Medicaid enrolees.
The legislation also reshapes subsidies to low-income people for private insurance. (Reuters)