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Healthcare Reform News Update for July 18, 2017

Healthcare Reform News Update for July 18, 2017

GOP Senate Healthcare Bill Halted; Reform Talks Continue

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) announced late Monday that the Senate will drop its latest healthcare reform bill. The decision came after Senators Jerry Moran (R-KS) and Mike Lee (R-UT) said they would not support the legislation. The senators joined colleagues Rand Paul (R-KY) and Susan Collins (R-ME) in their opposition, leaving the bill no chance of passing if put to a vote.

McConnell’s efforts are now focused on pushing senators to vote on a bill that will repeal Obamacare within two years.

In a statement, McConnell said: “Regretfully, it is now apparent that the effort to repeal and immediately replace the failure of Obamacare will not be successful. So, in the coming days, the Senate will vote to take up the House bill with the first amendment in order being what a majority of the Senate has already supported in 2015 and that was vetoed by then-President Obama: a repeal of Obamacare with a two-year delay to provide for a stable transition period to a patient-centered health care system that gives Americans access to quality, affordable care.”

Healthcare Reform News Update for July 17, 2017

Senate Healthcare Vote, CBO Score Delayed

Senator John McCain (R-AZ) recently announced a planned absence to undergo surgery to remove a blood clot above his left eye. With the temporary loss of McCain’s vote, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) decided Saturday to delay the highly anticipated vote on the Senate healthcare bill. The postponement is expected to last for a week, allowing McCain to recover from surgery and return to Capitol Hill. The Senate is split 52-48 between Republicans and Democrats. (Here is where GOP senators stand on the updated bill.) In order for the legislation to pass, McConnell can’t lose more than two votes.

Adding to the Senate’s delay, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) announced Sunday that it was not prepared to release an analysis of the Senate’s updated bill. The CBO was expected to release an analysis on Monday.

Two Leading Health Insurance Organizations Oppose Cruz Amendment

America’s Health Insurance Plans and the Blue Cross Blue Shield Association, two influential health insurance groups, wrote the Senate a letter requesting the removal of the Cruz Amendment from the updated healthcare bill. The Cruz Amendment would allow insurance companies to sell plans that do not meet Affordable Care Act coverage requirements as long as at least one plan that does meet coverage requirements is offered.

In the letter, the organizations include these statements: “As healthy people move to the less-regulated plans, those with significant medical needs will have no choice but to stay in the comprehensive plans, and premiums will skyrocket for people with pre-existing conditions…Finally, this provision will lead to far fewer, if any, coverage options for consumers who purchase their plan in the individual market. As a result, millions of more individuals will become uninsured.”

Colorado’s Individual Market Will See Large Premium Hikes

Health insurance companies participating in Colorado’s individual market are requesting an average premium rate increase of 27 percent. Colorado Insurance Commissioner Marguerite Salazar expressed her lack of surprise in the high rate requests. In an interview, Salazar said, “I believe that the dubious situation at the federal level has contributed to the premium increase requests we’ve seen from the companies.”

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