VOTE ON HEALTH CARE BILL IN US SENATE DELAYED UNTIL AFTER FOURTH OF JULY RECESS
SACRAMENTO, CA [BY MARTY OMOTO, CDCAN LAST UPDATED 06/27/2017 11:40 AM] – US Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (Republican – Kentucky), announced today in a press conference on Capitol Hill that there would be no vote on the controversial health care bill before the Senate’s July 4threcess. McConnell said that discussions would continue in hopes of getting the necessary votes for passage. He also announced that Republican senators would be going to the White House to meet with President Trump to discuss the health care bill.
It was clear that US Senate Republicans did not have the votes to move the bill forward in a procedural vote that was scheduled to happen today – and the actual vote on the bill on Thursday.
The US Senate’s July 4th recess currently runs from July 3rd through July 7th.
With Republicans holding a slim 52 vote majority and every Democrat opposed to the bill, McConnell could only afford to lose no more than two Republican US Senators. Anywhere from six to seven Republican US senators came out in opposition to moving the bill forward this week – with more Republicans who indicated problems or concerns with the current version of the bill.
The non-partisan Congressional Budget Office score on the measure found it would leave 22 million more people without insurance compared to present law over the next decade. The Congressional Budget Office analysis also found that the US Senate bill would cause health care premiums to rise over the next two years, undercutting a major Republican argument for the bill.
It is not clear yet if US Senate Republicans will have the votes after the July 4th recess, with controversy about the legislation growing among conservative who want to see greater cost controls and reductions in Medicaid and controls on health care premiums and more moderate Republicans who fear reductions impacting Medicaid.
DELAY IN VOTE GREETED WITH SOME RELIEF BY POLICYMAKERS AND ADVOCATES IN CALIFORNIA
With massive cuts proposed in the bill to control the growth in Medicaid spending, the news that the US Senate will not take action on the bill before the July 4th recess was greeted with some relief by policymakers and advocates for people with disabilities (including developmental), mental health needs, the blind seniors and families with low incomes in California. It is possible the US Senate Republicans will never have the votes needed to pass a health care bill – at least in its current form.
Over 14 million Californians are currently enrolled in Medicaid – called “Medi-Cal” in California. Almost half of the cost of providing regional center funded services and supports in California for eligible children and adults with developmental disabilities is funded by Medicaid dollars. Medicaid also funds half (or even more) of the funding of a wide range of other critical community based services including In-Home Supportive Services (IHSS); Waiver Personal Care Services under the Nursing Facility/Acute Hospital and In-Home Operations Medicaid Waivers; community-based adult services (CBAS), Multipurpose Senior Services Program (MSSP), in addition to Medi-Cal health benefits.
Governor Brown earlier released a statement on June 22nd, when the US Senate Republican health care bill was unveiled publicly, saying that “Trumpcare 2.0 has the same stench – and effect – as the bill House Republicans and the White House slapped together last month: Millions will lose health care coverage, while millionaires profit. The American people deserve better.”
Assembly Speaker Anthony Rendon (Democrat – Lakewood) previously blasted the US Senate Republican health care bill, in a press release on June 23rd, saying “…yesterday, Republicans in the U.S. Senate released a cynical plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act, posing a real and immediate threat to millions of Californians who only have health coverage because of the ACA. [Affordable Care Act or “Obamacare”]. Preparing California to meet this threat must be the top health care priority for the Legislature, Governor Brown, and organizations that advocate for increasing access to health care.”
Also on June 22nd, Senate President Pro Tem Kevin De Leon (Democrat – Los Angeles) released a statement, saying that the US Senate Republican bill “…says a lot about Republican priorities. It doesn’t solve any of the problems that Republicans have been complaining about for the past 7 years. It doesn’t reduce healthcare costs. It doesn’t improve access or quality of care. It doesn’t stabilize insurance markets. It will kick tens of millions of Americans off their healthcare, and force working Americans to pay more for less care with higher deductibles. It takes hundreds of billions of dollars from Medicaid to pay for tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans. In fact, this bill eviscerates Medicaid as we know it – it includes even deeper cuts to care for the disabled, for nursing homes, and low-income Americans than the House bill. It shows that the outrage over the Affordable Care Act was nothing more than cynical partisan politics at its worst, and now Republicans are using their power to make American healthcare worse for almost everybody but the most privileged. It’s sickening in every sense of the word, and it will be disastrous for California.”
There were no official press releases on the release last week of the US Senate Republican health care bill by the Republican leaders of the State Senate or Assembly.