The Senate is barreling toward a vote next week on a recently unveiled bill that would repeal much of the Affordable Care Act and convert Medicaid into a shrinking block grant. With just a few days left to muster the 50 votes necessary to pass the bill before the clock on reconciliation expires, the bill’s conservative authors are pressuring their moderate colleagues to get on board, despite the fact that the bill includes none of the protections moderates have demanded for months, nor any of the concessions that they won in previous Obamacare repeal bills.
With only a single committee hearing, no markup, no complete score from the Congressional Budget Office and only 90 seconds of floor debate allocated for the bill, and no time to hold a conference committee with the House, moderates are essentially being told to fall in line and swallow the bill as is.
If Senate Majority Leaders Mitch McConnell (R-KY) holds a vote next week, he’ll be throwing under the bus moderates who promised their constituents opioid treatment funding, protection for Medicaid, and equal treatment for people with pre-existing conditions.
During Senate Republicans’ most recent run at repealing Obamacare, they threw in a provision that allocated a whopping $45 billion dollarsfor addressing the opioid epidemic in an attempt to win the votes of Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH), whose states have been hit particularly hard by the crisis. While experts noted that the $45 billion was nowhere near enough to address the addiction scourge gripping much of the country, it was a significant concession to those lawmakers.
Back in June, Capito declared that opioid funding alone would not be enough to win her vote, and cited major concerns about that bill’s deep cuts to Medicaid. But both she and Portman ended up voting for both the Republican “repeal and replace” bill and a “skinny” repeal bill pitched as a way move to a conference committee with the House.
When asked by TPM whether Portman is attempting to negotiate the same funding boost and whether that will influence his final vote, Portman’s office would only say: “The senator is reviewing the proposal and getting feedback.”
Capito did not respond to TPM’s inquiry.
You can read the rest at Talking Points Memo.