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Mending Fences: GOP Extends Health Care Olive Branch — Sort Of

As GOP senators roll out their newest version of health care reform, a new Gallup poll shows U.S. adults are as divided as Congress on the government’s best approach to reforms.

The largest segment in the poll, 44 percent, want “significant changes” to the existing Affordable Care Act, but they want to keep it in place. According to the survey, 30 percent favor repealing and replacing the law, and 23 percent want to keep the ACA as it is.

Gallup’s Justin McCarthy noted:

“President Donald Trump has promised Americans a ‘beautiful’ healthcare bill, but Americans themselves have varying opinions on what such a bill should look like. No groundswell of support is emerging for any approach, but the greatest share of Americans prefer the idea of keeping the law while making significant changes to it.”

As for this latest revision, it keeps in place deep cuts to Medicaid and the elimination of the current mandate requiring people to purchase insurance.

Changes implemented to address concerns of both moderate and conservative Republicans who had different objections to the original bill are also in the new version.

According to Gallup, 30% favor repealing and replacing the law, and 23% want to keep the ACA as it is.

This includes a last-minute addition from U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) to allow individuals to purchase cheaper, skimpier health plans. It also keeps some of the Obamacare taxes on the wealthy as an enticement for moderate votes.

That inclusion is a win for conservatives who wanted more choices for consumers. Utah Senator Mike Lee, who had been working with Cruz on similar ideas, said he was shut out of the final language and is unsure if this is something he can support at this time.

Here is the revision breakdown as it relates to appeasing conservatives:

  • Health Savings Accounts can be used to pay for health insurance premiums.
  • Catastrophic health plans could be paid for using tax credits.
  • A health plan with narrower coverage but cheaper premiums will be in individual market.

Here is the revision breakdown as it relates to appeasing moderates:

  • A $45 billion fund to help people with opioid addiction.
  • An extension of three health care taxes: the 3.8 percent tax on investments on the wealthy; a .9 percent surtax on Medicaid for the wealthy; and a tax on insurance executive’s compensation.
  • $70 billion to states to help stabilize the cost of health care and implement new reforms, bringing the total in this fund to $182.

Kentucky Senator Rand Paul came out Wednesday and said he’d vote against the new bill.

Maine Senator Susan Collins indicated earlier in the week that a complete overhaul would be necessary to win her support.

Mitch McConnell hopes to hold a vote on the measure next week.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of how much the bill will cost and how many people would lose insurance must be released. That report is expected Monday.

Photo Credit: Nataliia K / shutterstock.com