Last week, the House voted to pass the American Healthcare Act. The bill, finalized 24 hours before the vote was taken, bucked many congressional norms like waiting for a CBO score or, you know, giving representatives time to read and analyze the legislation in its entirety.
Last week, I discussed the general themes of the bill, as well as opinions about the bill from groups like the AMA and AARP (hint: they don’t like it). I won’t dive into the details here, but the basics include dramatic cuts to Medicaid (north of $800bn) and waivers that allow states to opt out of core ACA provisions (i.e., preexisting condition protections). For a proper breakdown of the bill and its implications, I highly recommend this piece by Sarah Kliff over at Vox.
When the news came out that the bill had passed, I admit I was a little stunned. Chalk that up to my naïvete when it comes to politics, I suppose, but there seemed to be overwhelming opposition to the proposed legislation. Healthcare Twitter was abuzz with the status of swing votes in the House, and, up until the vote, it seemed as if the bill wouldn’t have enough support to pass.
Then, just like that, it did.
For those of you who feel like weeping, save your tears—there’s still a long way to go before this legislation becomes law. The bill now moves to the Senate where representatives are already saying things like:
“I will not support it in its current form in the Senate, and am confident that what the Senate considers and approves will be different than the House bill.”
Sen. Dean Heller (R-NV)
“The Senate is starting from scratch. We’re going to draft our own bill. And I’m convinced that we’re going to take the time to do it right.”
Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME)
The Senate now goes to work modifying the bill before bringing it to a vote. It’s clear that the strategy will be to not vote until they’re confident they have the 51 votes needed to pass. With a 52-member majority and skepticism from a number of Republican representatives, it looks like we are in for a long battle and a lot of changes.
If the bill manages to pass in the Senate, a committee will be formed to reconcile differences between the Senate’s version and the original House version before being sent back to both chambers for one last vote. At that time, if it passes both, it will be sent to Trump for approval. The New York Times made a great graphic breaking this process down.
For now, the group responsible for the future of the AHCA and our healthcare system as a whole is the 13-member Senate Healthcare Working Group. The group includes:
- Mitch McConnell (R-KY)
- Orrin Hatch (R-UT)
- Lamar Alexander (R-TN)
- Mike Enzi (R-WY)
- John Thune (R-SD)
- Mike Lee (R-UT)
- Ted Cruz (R-TX)
- Tom Cotton (R-AR)
- Cory Gardner (R-CO)
- John Barrasso (R-WY)
- John Cornyn (R-TX)
- Robert Portman (R-OH)
- Pat Toomey (R-PA)
As always, we will keep our ear to the ground and share updates with you as they happen. One thing is for certain, the battle over healthcare will tell us a lot about what this country stands for and where we’re headed.