Here’s The ‘Skinny’ On Senate’s Last Push To Repeal Obamacare

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Robert Donachie Capitol Hill and Health Care Reporter
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Senate leadership is considering a push to pass a drastically watered down version of Obamacare repeal in order to move to negotiations with members of the House, in a last-ditch effort to make good on a seven-year campaigning point for congressional Republicans.

The measure being floated is known as the “skinny repeal,” and it is believed to be the only way Republicans can pass a bill through the Senate to send to the House for final negotiations. The bill is likely to include a repeal of Obamacare’s individual mandate and the medical device tax.

Senators are expected to debate two options — the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA) and a clean, repeal-only piece of legislation — both of which appear to fall short of the 50 votes needed to pass in the Senate under budget reconciliation. (RELATED: What The Health Are They Voting On?)

A number of moderate Republican senators are unwilling to support the BCRA because it institutes steep funding roll backs for Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion program. Some 20 Republican senators serve in states that chose to expand Medicaid under Obamacare, and millions of their constituents have obtained insurance coverage through the program. As a result, the BCRA is likely a hard sell for moderate Republicans that are currently on the fence.

The repeal-only measure, called the Obamacare Repeal Reconciliation Act of 2017, is the other bill. The clean repeal bill would entirely repeal Obamacare without a replacement, but passing it is rather improbable. The Congressional Budget Office projected the repeal-only bill would leave 27 million Americans without health coverage in 2020, a figure that is likely to cause moderate Republicans and Democrats to vote against the amendment.  (RELATED: Third Time’s A Charm: CBO Releases Report On GOP’s Third Health Care Attempt)

Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky is expected to kick off the proceedings Tuesday with a procedural vote on the bill the House passed May 4 – the American Health Care Act. If the motion is approved, McConnell can start offering various amendments to the bill for consideration.

Senate leadership is desperate to get to 50 votes on some version of health care reform. Leadership is telling wayward Republican senators that they need to pass a bill, literally any bill, so they can get to negotiations with the House. At that point, the sell is they can fix the legislation.

There best option appears to be the skinny repeal, which is expected to be offered after senators vote on the two other options.

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