U.S. Senate Republicans unveiled their version of legislation that could replace Obamacare on Thursday, proposing several key changes to former president Barack Obama’s signature health-care law.
While the draft bill has drawn criticism from around the country, and especially from Democrats, U.S. President Donald Trump said he’s happy with the overall proposal.
“It’s going to be very good,” Trump said during a meeting at the White House Thursday. “A little negotiation, but it’s going to be very good.”
Opponents of the changes protested outside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s office after the draft bill became public.
“No cuts to Medicaid — save our liberty!” protesters chanted, according to The Washington Post.
The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) has estimated that the House version of the bill, which was passed in May, would kick 23-million people off their health-care plans. The CBO is expected to weigh in on the Senate draft bill early next week.
Here are some key takeaway points from the controversial legislation:
Medicaid for poor and disabled
The draft bill would phase out Obamacare’s expansion of the Medicaid program for the poor and disabled over three years, from 2021 to 2024. Then it would enact deeper cuts in the program beginning in 2025.
It would also allow states to add work requirements for some Medicaid enrollees. The legislation also reshapes subsidies to low-income people for private insurance.
Taxes on the rich
It would repeal tax increases Obama’s law imposed on higher-income people and medical industry companies to pay for expanded coverage.
And it would end the tax penalty Obama’s statute imposes on people who don’t buy insurance.
Much like Obamacare, insurers would have to accept all applicants, and charge the same rates. That’s a change from the previous House measure, which suggested that those with pre-existing conditions would not be guaranteed health coverage.
But the state would be given powers to let insurers revoke some guaranteed benefits, such as drug plans and hospital costs, which would limit how much coverage those with pre-existing conditions actually receive.
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The Senate’s proposal would block federal payments to Planned Parenthood.
Many Republicans have long fought the organization because it provides abortions.
It would also bar the use of the bill’s health-care tax credits to buy coverage that includes abortions.
Medicaid payments for states
Federal payments to the states helped them expand their Medicaid programs for low-income individuals.
Under the draft bill, these additional funds would continue through 2020, and then be gradually reduced until they are entirely eliminated in 2024.
The Senate bill would also reduce subsidies now provided to help people without workplace coverage get private health insurance. It would also eliminate the requirement for larger companies to provide health coverage to workers.
-With files from Reuters, The Associated Press