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Senate Republicans Brace for Release of Health Bill Thursday

22 June 2017

Senate Republicans plan to reveal text of their draft health care bill on Thursday, Reuters reports. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has faced backlash for the perceived lack of transparency behind the health care bill negotiations, but insisted that there will be "plenty of time" for discussion.

He called the Senate "the firewall to battle Trumpcare", even though Senate Republicans are using a parliamentary process known as reconciliation so they do not need any Democratic votes to pass their own health care bill and can block a filibuster.

Aides and lobbyists said they expected the GOP bill to provide health care tax credits linked to people's incomes, not their ages like the House-passed measure, and impose spending limits on the growth of the federal-state Medicaid program for the poor that would tighten further by the mid-2020s.

Republican senators complained about their party's secretive health care bill Wednesday, a day before GOP leaders planned to finally release their plan for erasing much of President Barack Obama's health care law.

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Moderate Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, said she had "no idea" if she'd back the legislation until she sees the language. He also added that the bill would amount to "a big fat tax break for the wealthiest among us". Spicer offered no specifics but said Trump wants the Senate to "strengthen it, to make it more affordable, more accessible".

"I've told [McConnell] unless I have the input from my constituents, unless I have got the information I need to justify a yes vote, I won't be voting yes", Johnson told Cuomo.

"No, nor have I met any American that has", the Arizona senator told Bloomberg when asked whether he had gotten a look at the bill.

The Congressional Budget Office said the Republican bill, besides leaving millions more without coverage and raising rates for older, lower-income Americans not yet eligible for Medicare, would result in some with pre-existing conditions "unable to purchase comprehensive coverage with premiums close to those under current law and might not be able to purchase coverage at all".

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"Listen, there has to be private meetings all the time, but I think there should be more public debate on it", he said. In a 50-50 tally, Vice President Mike Pence would cast the tie-breaking vote.

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer criticized the secret bill-drafting process as "reckless" in a Senate floor speech Wednesday.

An estimated 23 million people could lose their healthcare under the plan, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. She has opposed past conservative efforts to include language barring federal payments to Planned Parenthood, a group many Republicans abhor because it provides abortions. Schatz said in his remarks on the Senate floor.

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