Bills

Republicans attempt to pass ‘skinny repeal’ in dead of night

What is happening with Obamacare now?

The Senate finally released the text of the so-called “skinny bill” late on Thursday. They will vote on the bill at midnight. Officially named the Health Care Freedom Act (HCFA), the bill makes serious cuts to the Affordable Care Act.

Despite multiple Republican Senators’ insistence that they do not like the bill and do not want it to pass the House of Representatives as is, the bill seems designed to easily pass the House. The bill does not accomplish the Republican party’s goals in the long term, as most provisions have an expiration date.

The bill does the following:

  • Repeals the individual mandate
  • Repeals the employer mandate until 2025
  • Repeals one ACA tax on medical devices until 2020
  • Increases Health Savings Account contributions
  • Bans payments to Planned Parenthood for one year. Previous language of this provision did not adhere to budget rules, and Democrats are challenging it.
  • Includes new language on state innovation waivers. According to experts, these waivers no longer appear to allow states to eliminate some consumer protections. Previous language of this provision did not adhere to budget rules. Federal oversight will be harder.

See the “Bills, Bills, Bills” description at the bottom of this piece for further analysis of the skinny repeal.

The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimated that this bill will leave 16 million people uninsured by 2026 and drive up premiums by 20 percent. Fifteen million people will be uninsured by next year alone.

The Senate still needs to vote on the “skinny repeal” bill. No one knows how this week will end, including those running the repeal efforts. The only guarantee is that there will be stumbles. The Senate is looking to pass a health care bill, allegedly by Friday, using reconciliation. This means the final bill needs to adhere to budget rules to pass with a simple majority. The Senate also needs to adhere to a strict schedule.

Here are the next steps:

CREDIT: Diana Ofosu/ThinkProgress

Friday, July 28: The Senate will vote on the “skinny repeal” bill at midnight.

The debate is still continuing. Here are some memorable moments thus far.

Once the debate is over, the Senate will begin voting on a series of amendments introduced by both parties in the so-called “vote-a-rama.” This could start early Friday. The process is meant to be exhaustive, so ThinkProgress will only update this piece with the most important votes as the day continues.

12:24 a.m. In yet another effort to restore procedural order, Senator Patty Murray (D- WA) motioned to send the House-passed bill back to committee.

Thursday, July 27: The Senate introduced the skinny repeal bill text.

10:31 p.m. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released an estimate that the “skinny repeal” bill will leave 16 million people uninsured by 2026 and drive up premiums by 20 percent. Fifteen million people will be uninsured by next year alone.

9:55 p.m. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) introduced the text of the “skinny bill,” called the the Health Care Freedom Act (HCFA). The vote is scheduled at midnight.

9:50 p.m. Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) introduced an amendment that would repeal the Cadillac tax, which is a 40 percent excise tax on high-cost employer-sponsored health plans. This fig leaf amendment failed. The final tally: 52 to 48

7:37 p.m. House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-WI) issued a statement on the Senate health legislation. Ryan said the House is willing to go to conference on the “skinny repeal” bill. He did not commit, leaving wiggle room for his caucus to pass a repeal-only bill. It’s still not clear what will happen if the Senate passes a “skinny repeal” bill, and there is no public version of the bill.

5:15 p.m. Sens. Lindsay Graham (R-SC), John McCain (R-AZ), and Ron Johnson held a press conference where they said they will vote for the so-called “skinny repeal” bill, but only if they can be assured that the bill they vote for does not become law.

5:05 p.m. The Senate voted on an amendment proposed by Senator Luther Strange (R-AL). To get around budget rules, the amendment looks to redirect premium tax credits funds through CHIP program after 2018. The goal is to apply Hyde Amendment — which blocks federal Medicaid funding for abortion services, to these funds. The final tally: 50–50

3:10 p.m. At the Senate GOP lunch, lawmakers focused on whether House will conference a skeletal ACA-repeal only bill dubbed “Skinny Repeal.” Capitol Hill reporters are reporting that Senate Republicans don’t actually want this bill to become law, but they will vote for it anyway.

3:07 p.m. The Senate voted on a single-payer amendment introduced by Senator Steve Daines (R-MT). The GOP senator attempted to troll universal care supporters but the joke didn’t land. The final tally: 0 to 57, and 43 senators who simply responded present

12:45 p.m. The Senate Parliamentarian ruled that state innovation waivers, violate the Byrd Rule and will not be allowed. Innovation waivers allow states to waive protections for people with pre-existing conditions, which includes waiving essential health benefits.

Wednesday, July 26: The Senate’s efforts to partially repeal the ACA fail.

7:15 p.m. Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said Democrats will offer no more amendments until Republicans show them the contents of the “skinny” repeal bill.

7:13 p.m. The Senate voted on an amendment offered by Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV) that “advocates” for the Medicaid expansion. The showboat amendment is dubbed the “Sense of the Senate.” This failed. The final tally: 10 to 90

6:38 p.m. The Senate voted on a motion to send the bill back to committee to review how the House-passed bill affects people with disabilities; this motion to commit was proposed by Sen. Bob Casey (D-PA). The Americans with Disabilities Act celebrates its 27th anniversary Wednesday, July 26. This failed. The final tally: 48 to 51

4:30 p.m. The Senate voted on a provision proposed by Sen. Joe Donnelly (D-IN). The Donnelly motion looked to send the House-passed bill back to committee and report back without the Medicaid coverage provisions. This failed. The final tally: 48 to 52

4:11 p.m. The Senate voted first on the Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act (ORRA), with an amendment from Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) that would ban federal funding of abortion. This failed. This is a proxy vote on repealing the Affordable Care Act and defunding Planned Parenthood. Both live to see another day. The final tally: 45 to 55, with seven Republicans and all of the Democrats opposing.

Tuesday, July 25: The ACA repeal and replace bill fails.

The Senate voted against a version of the Better Care Reconciliation Bill (BCRA), which included a revised amendment by Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX). The procedural vote was technically on whether the amendment complies with the budget act. The failed vote means that the Senate cannot pass BCRA as is, with a simple majority. Repeal and replace is not dead, but it’s definitely on life support.

The tally: 43 to 57, with nine Republicans and all of the Democrats opposing.

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