The House bill would end extra federal payments in 2020 that cover more lower-income people
Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Democrat from New York, speaks with reporters at the Capitol in Washington, Tuesday, March, 14, 2017. photo/J. Scott Applewhite, photo: AP/J. Scott Applewhite
09 of May 2017 14:11:06
WASHINGTON – Senate Republicans trying to craft a health care overhaul discussed Tuesday how to ease provisions in the House-passed bill phasing out President Barack Obama's expansion of Medicaid. On television talk shows and congressional town hall meetings, meanwhile, attention on the GOP drive to repeal Obama's law showed no signs of fading.Members of a working group appointed by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Republican from Kentucky, met privately and said their discussions centered on Medicaid, the health care program for poor and disabled people.The House bill would end extra federal payments in 2020 that Obama's law provides to states that have expanded their Medicaid programs to cover more lower-income people. Senators from some of the 31 states that enlarged their programs want to prevent an abrupt cutoff of that money.[caption id="attachment_58588" align="aligncenter" width="1024"] Graphic shows process of health care overhaul bill moving through Congress. Graphic: U.S. House of Representatives/U.S. Senate, via AP[/caption]"Our own strategy, rather than relying on what the House did, is to look at this with fresh eyes and think, 'How do you ensure these people can continue to get coverage,'" said Sen. Rob Portman, Republican from Ohio.Participants said the group's work had a long way to go. Portman suggested ways to ease the impact of the House's Medicaid cuts, including using a multi-billion fund the House provided to help states provide financial assistance for insurance and gearing the bill's tax credits more toward lower-income people.Portman and Sen. Pat Toomey, Republican from Pennsylvania, are among senators on McConnell's 13-member working group from states that expanded Medicaid. The group includes no women, which has drawn criticism from Democrats and others.Republican senators must resolve differences over the House bill's Medicaid cuts, federal subsidies to help consumers buy insurance and waivers so states can allow higher premiums for some people with pre-existing medical conditions and ease other Obama consumer protections.Jimmy Kimmel re-entered the debate Monday night, along with a GOP senator who named a test for weighing the merits of health legislation after the ABC late night talk show host.Last week, Kimmel delivered an emotional monologue describing his newborn son's recent life-saving surgery and saying Congress must pass legislation helping people afford health care. Monday night, he mockingly apologized for saying children should have health care, saying, "It was insensitive, it was offensive."https://youtu.be/MmWWoMcGmo0Appearing as Kimmel's guest, Sen. Bill Cassidy, Republican from Louisiana, urged viewers to call Democratic senators and tell them to engage in the health care debate and to tell Republicans to back legislation lowering premiums and providing adequate coverage."You're on the right track," Cassidy told Kimmel. Cassidy added, "Now, we've got to be able to pay for it, and that's the challenge."https://youtu.be/SToeM55KMzUHouse Speaker Paul Ryan, Republican from Wisconsin, called the GOP bill "a better system" that would lower premiums Tuesday.On Fox News Channel's "Fox and Friends," Ryan also defended a House provision allowing insurers to charge older customers five times or more than they charge younger consumers, which has drawn the ire of AARP and other critics. Obama's law limits that ratio to 3-1, part of its effort to help older people afford coverage"That's the way insurance is priced," Ryan said of higher premiums for older people. He said as a result of Obama's shifting of costs away from older people and onto younger ones, "Young people said, 'I'm not going to do it, I'm just not going to buy the insurance.'"