Concerns about Medicaid funding remain from healthcare providers and key lawmakers to the latest legislation offered by U.S. Senate Republican leadership to gut the Affordable Care Act.
The new version unveiled Thursday by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s Better Care Reconciliation Act would roll back the ACA’s Medicaid expansion and increase the number of uninsured Americans. The amended BCRA, also known as Trumpcare, would also strip protections from Americans who buy currently buy subsidized individual policies under the ACA and allow for the sale of cheaper policies that have skimpier benefits.
But the bill’s effort to move Medicaid to a program from an open-ended entitlement to one that allocates states a fixed amount, or block grant, remains unpopular among key moderate Republican Senators. And such overall Medicaid funding reductions are what appear on the verge of dooming the bill.
“I opposed the previous draft because it did not ensure access to affordable health care in West Virginia, did not do enough to combat the opioid epidemic that is devastating my state, cut traditional Medicaid too deeply, and harmed rural health care providers,” U.S. Sen. Shelley Moore Capito (R-West Virginia) said Thursday afternoon. “I look forward to reviewing the revised Senate health care legislation and forthcoming CBO report to determine the impact on West Virginians, but continue to have serious concerns about the Medicaid provisions.”
The bill is already opposed by Sen. Susan Collins, (R-Maine), who is also against reductions in Medicaid spending, and Sen. Rand Paul (R-Kentucky), who wants the entire ACA to be repealed. The BCRA needs 50 of 52 Republicans in the Senate and cannot afford to lose one more or it’s doomed.
Moderates like Capito, Dean Heller (R-Nevada) and Rob Portman (R-Ohio) have been under siege from groups like AARP, the American Medical Association and the American Hospital Association. AARP has launched new radio and TV ads in the last week which have been running ads in their states urging them to vote no on the GOP Senate legislation in part because of the dramatic changes to the Medicaid program for poor Americans.
“AARP also remains alarmed at the Senate bill’s drastic Medicaid cuts,” AARP executive vice president Nancy LeaMond said Thursday. “The proposed cuts would leave millions of Americans, including 17.4 million poor seniors and people with disabilities, at risk of losing the care they need and their ability to live independently in their homes and communities.”