But – like with tax reform – there is no infrastructure bill as yet in the House or Senate, or details from the White House, as officials say the specifics won’t be out for a few months.
Senate Republicans got a broad outline Tuesday of their still-evolving legislation to replace Obamacare, as time dwindles and pressure mounts from the White House to put the contentious measure to a vote before the summer recess.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell is proposing to keep in place Obamacare’s protection against higher health-insurance premiums for people with pre-existing conditions when they buy individual coverage, said a Republican aide familiar with the recommendation.
Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy suggested he was comfortable with the bill still being written, though he noted he hadn’t seen final text.
If the parliamentarian rules against them, the GOP will revert to their back up plan, which involves working within the current Obamacare subsidy structure, exactly how they would make Obamacare subsidies less costly remains unclear. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) or moderate Sen.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) made it clear major hurdles remain to reforming Obamacare, saying he’s “leery of a health care bill passing the Senate that can get through the House”. And the entire Republican conference is set to be briefed on a menu of options for how to move forward during their all-member lunch Tuesday.
“There is a concerted effort and will be a concerted effort to stabilize the market”, said Sen. “I think there’s obviously more to be done, but the phaseout is further down the road and states have a chance to adapt”, he said.
Sen. Dean Heller (R-Nev.) told the Daily News as he exited the meeting that it was a “big umbrella” discussion of the bill lacking in crucial details.
Democrats argue that ending the extra Medicaid expansion funds on a slower timetable, as the Senate bill appears poised to do, serves little objective and will simply take away Medicaid coverage at a later date. How and whether to unwind states’ Medicaid expansion presents the biggest hurdle, as a number of Republican senators in states that expanded coverage are deeply opposed to throwing people off healthcare. It is essentially a rehash of proposals from Gov. Paul LePage that have already been largely rejected. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) are question marks. That’s because they’ve long promised their base they would repeal the health care law on “Day 1” – once they had a Republican president and Republican majorities in Congress. That’s a dealbreaker for many senators from states that have benefited from expansion.
The meeting will focus on health care, tax reform and next steps in the President’s agenda, Short said. In a recent letter to me, he states that this bill ends “Obamacare’s costly mandates”.
The House passed its version of the bill in May, but many GOP senators said that legislation could not be passed in the upper legislative chamber. Republicans must pass a bill by the end of the fiscal year in order to use the budget reconciliation process and also avoid a filibuster attempt by Democrats.
Senate Republicans are adamant about repealing the surtax and have offered $110 million in additional education funding, though they are vague about the source of this money. As in the House bill, the Senate is considering a per-person spending limit, known as a per-capita cap.
House Republican leaders are asking senators to agree to remove more than $150 million they want to spend in Louisiana’s budget next year. The only requirement is that the Senate save $133 billion, the same amount saved in the House bill.