While most people were focused on the telecasts of former FBI Director James Comey’s testimony about his closed-door encounters with President Trump, the Senate was working on the measure to repeal the Affordable Care Act that was passed by the House GOP on May 4.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's goal is to present a bill to the Congressional Budget Office ("CBO") for analysis as soon as next week, so a final vote can be held before Sept. 30. That’s the deadline for a measure to be passed this year under Senate budget reconciliation rules. Unlike the House, the Senate can’t vote on a bill that hasn’t first been scored by the CBO.
A few details have leaked out about what the GOP working group is considering. They’re walking a tightrope because the House bill, which the CBO says would cost 23 million Americans their health coverage, is hopelessly unpopular.
One provision under consideration by the Senate group is to protect people with pre-existing conditions from insurance rejections or rate hikes, though the mechanism of that guarantee is unclear. The House bill allows states to obtain waivers allowing insurers to reject applicants with medical conditions or surcharge them heavily under certain circumstances.
Another hot point, the AHCA’s effective repeal of Medicaid expansion, which will never fall below 90%, would be reduced to traditional Medicaid’s rate, which averages 57%, starting in 2020.