After Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnel revised the American Health Care Act, calling it the “Better Care Reconciliation Act of 2017 (BCRA),” he announced his plan to have the Senate vote on the matter before leaving for their Fourth Of July recess. This morning, the Senate revealed that they will not be voting until after their recess as they could not agree on the matter. Some Republicans are concerned that a delay will make it harder for the bill to pass, and others are doubting the bill entirely, especially after Monday’s CBO report.
The White House has denied the accuracy of CBO reporting, but it is still a factor in Senate voter’s minds. The Congressional Budget Office predicted that 22 million people will go uninsured if the BCRA passes, which is a million less than what they said about the House AHCA bill, but still an alarmingly high number. They also reported that premiums and out-of-pocket costs will skyrocket, especially for the poor and elderly. However, the bill would decrease the federal deficit by $321 billion over the next ten years.
Several senators were likely on the fence but pushed to the opposing side after the CBO report. With a report like that, even Republicans Senator Susan Collins of Maine and Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky refused to vote on the bill until further changes were made. Rand Paul publically responded, “It’s worse to pass a bad bill than pass no bill.” Others, like Republican Senator John Thune of South Dakota, remarked that delaying the vote is only logical if a better plan may be on the way, but he does not believe that a better plan is coming.
One major part of the bill did change since its inception earlier this month. The bill was set to remove the mandate that all Americans have health insurance and require that all insurers accept anyone who applies. However, this Monday the Senate added a revision to penalize people who go without health insurance by giving them a six-month waiting period for their insurance to begin once they purchase it. There still wouldn’t be a tax penalty, but there would now be an incentive for people to buy health insurance before they actually need it.
There is a chance that more revisions for the bill will come as the Senate prepares to vote. Check back here for updates.